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William Kentridge, "Stereoscope", 1998 – 1999, Courtesy the artist
William Kentridge

Image, parole, son

Widely regarded as one of the most important contemporary artists working today, William Kentridge (b. 1955, Johannesburg) has created over the past three-plus decades a powerful oeuvre that spans artistic disciplines, from drawing and sculpture to animated film, performance, theatre and opera.

This exhibition conceived for Mudam Luxembourg is devoted to drawings, and sculptures related to Kentridge’s new work for stage, Waiting for the Sibyl, created for the Teatro dell’Opera in Rome as a companion work to Alexander Calder’s Work in Progress, the only work for theatre composed entirely by the artist and that premiered in Rome in 1968. Also included in the exhibition at Mudam will be Kentridge’s most recent film that reprises the dual characters of Felix Teitlebaum and Soho Eckstein, the subjects of his acclaimed series of animated films, Drawings for Projection, begun in 1989, and a presentation of the artist’s five-channel video installation The Refusal of Time, a meditation on time and space, and the legacies of colonialism and industry, and the figure of the artist. A programme of performed works by Kentridge and works for stage will accompany the exhibition.

Kentridge is known for his acclaimed animated films that he makes from charcoal drawings using a distinctive process of erasure and recovery. His work is resolutely narrative in its treatment of themes intimately connected to history and the phenomena of memory and forgetfulness, to the condition of the artist and to the process of making. Kentridge tackles these subjects through the lens of his native South Africa and his own artistic persona. Eschewing what he describes as “the ideology of grand narratives”, Kentridge’s powerful drawings and collages, films, performances and works for stage, favour an aesthetic of the fragment, non-completion and uncertainty that reflects the accumulation and residues of time, and the persistence of the past in the present.

From the beginning of his career as an artist in South Africa during apartheid, Kentridge has been involved in theatre. In the 1970s, after graduating in political science and African studies, he studied theatre and mime in Johannesburg and Paris, and founded the Junction Avenue Theatre Company in Johannesburg and Soweto. From 1992 through 2002, he collaborated closely on several performance projects with the Handspring Puppet Company. During the last fifteen years, Kentridge has staged several major productions and operas including The Magic Flute (2005), The Nose (2010), Lulu (2015), Wozzeck (2017), and The Head and the Load (2018), which premiered at Tate Modern.

Artist biography
William Kentridge (b. 1955, Johannesburg) has held solo exhibitions at Kunstmuseum Basel (2019); Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid (2017); National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul (2015); Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (2013); Tate Modern, London (2012); Centre Pompidou, Paris (2002); and Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C. (2002). His work has been included in major international surveys including documenta in Kassel (2012, 2002, 1997) and the 51th, 48th and 45th Venice Biennial (2005, 1999, 1993). He is the recipient of the Praemium Imperial Award (2019), Penagos Prize for Drawing of the MAPFRE Foundation (2014), the Kyoto Prize (2010), the Goslaer Kaiserring (2003) and the Carnegie Prize (2000). He lives and works in Johannesburg.

Credits

Curator:
  • Suzanne Cotter
    With Christophe Gallois and Anna Loporcaro
    Assisted by Nelly Taravel