04 January 2008

William Kentridge

"I have been unable to escape Johannesburg. The four houses I have lived in, my school, studio, have all been within three kilometers of each other. And in the end all my work is rooted in this rather desperate provincial city. I have never tried to make illustrations of apartheid, but the drawings and films are certainly spawned by and feed off the brutalized society left in its wake. I am interested in a political art, that is to say an art of ambiguity, contradiction, uncompleted gestures, and uncertain endings; an art (and a politics) in which optimism is kept in check and nihilism at bay”
~ William Kentridge

Untitled (chairs) [2003, Photogravure with drypoint] © William Kentridge

Not too long ago I posted this rather pejorative assessment of the major art institutions, and especially the Memorial Art Gallery, here in Rochester. Well Marjorie Searl, who is the Chief Curator at the MAG emailed me with an invitation to have coffee, which we did - joined by Jess Marten, who works for Margie as Assistant Curator. Who thought anyone actually read this blog! And who thought anyone at the MAG in particular would not only notice but respond so graciously? Well, we had what I thought was a terrific conversation and have been exchanging irregular emails since.

Zeno at 4am ( 9 prints on one sheet )
[2001, Etching and sugarlift]
© William Kentridge

Yesterday Margie sent me this link to work by South African artist William Kentridge from which I borrowed (and corrected and expanded) the comment at the start of this post. There Kentridge both notes how his art is grounded locally and offers what I take to be an extremely articulate characterization of how art and politics intersect. The latter is germane to my concerns on this blog generally, but to recent discussions of art and politics in particular. I am totally unfamiliar with Kentridge's work which appears to straddle the line between drawing and projection and printmaking and film in really quite remarkable ways. So now I have to find out some more about Kentridge. Thanks Margie!

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