“I believe that in the indeterminacy of drawing – the contingent way that images arrive in the work – lies some kind of model of how we live our lives,” William Kentridge told New York's MoMA. “The activity of drawing is a way of trying to understand who we are and how we operate in the world.”
Currently at ACMI, three decades worth of Kentridge’s work is on display. The multidisciplinary artist’s work spans from charcoal illustrations, film animation, printmaking, collage and theatrical performance – often combined into a single piece. The works are not only mesmerisingly beautiful, they’re profound, meditating on his first-hand experiences of witnessing the dissolution of apartheid, and his role as an artist living in South Africa.
Touring San Francisco, New York, Paris, Vienna, Jerusalem and Moscow before hitting Melbourne, this exhibition explores five core themes of Kentridge’s work. In one part of the exhibition, a series of animated works capture the hearings between perpetrators and victims of apartheid that occurred during the mid-1990s. In another series of multi-part film installations he unpicks the relationship between artist and the observer, and the process that unfolds in the artists’ studio: “Walking, thinking, stalking the image. Many of the hours spent in the studio are hours of walking, pacing back and forth across the space gathering the energy, the clarity to make the first mark,” he said. “It is as if before the work can begin (the visible finished work of the drawing, film or sculpture), a different invisible work must be done.” In this section Kentridge also pays homage to French director Georges Méliès. Here, Kentridge’s love for magic, illusion and cinema is clearly on show. And then, just when you thought that one artist couldn’t be more prolific, there’s his stage design and directing experiences of operas The Nose and The Magic Flute.
William Kentridge: Five Themes lifts the curtain on one artists’ life’s work and his commitment to getting right to the bottom of his relationship with himself as an artist, a South African, a performer, a filmmaker and an illustrator.