He is often called a last living genius. William Kentridge, an absolute artist, is going to inaugurate this year’s edition of Etiuda&Anima Festival and will be awarded with ASIFA Prize 2014 – a prestigious prize that only outstanding animation creators can receive.
Five years ago New York’s Muzeum of Modern Art organized Kentridge’s artwork retrospective. This year Cracow audience has an exceptional opportunity to see a whole range of works created by this incredible artist. Inspired by a German expressionism and African art, he creates an animated palimpsests by recording sequent phases of creative process. His artistic self-portrait, he has been forming for years, is made of his multicultural parentage and social involvement.
Kentridge was born in 1955 in Johannesburg, Republic of South Africa, in a family of Polish-Lithuanian Jews that moved to South Africa. His art stands between theatre, cinematography, drawing, sculpture and installation. He is not just a creator, but also a theoretician. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Politics and African Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand and then a diploma in Fine Arts from the Johannesburg Art Foundation. In the early 1980’s he studied mime and theatre at the L’École Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq in Paris. Between 1975 and 1991, he was acting and directing in Johannesburg’s Junction Avenue Theatre Company. In the 1980’s he worked on television films and series as art director.
The essence of Kentridge’s creations are visual arts. He has been drawing and making prints since 1970’s. In 1979 he created series of monotypes, which is now known as the “Pit”. In 1980 he executed about 50 small-format etchings which he named the “Domestic Scenes” and in 1987 he began working on a group of charcoal and pastel drawings based on Watteau’s Embarkation for Cythera. In 2012 he created a series of large sketches of different tree species in South Africa, that were inspired by lectures in the Harvard University.
The artist is also an author of animated films. Between 1989 and 2003 he directed a series of nine short films that he eventually gathered under the title 9 Drawings for Projection. The group consists of Johannesburg, 2nd Greatest City After Paris (1989), Monument (1990), Mine (1991), Sobriety, Obesity & Growing Old (1991), Felix in Exile (1994), History of the Main Complaint (1996), Weighing and Wanting (1998), Stereoscope (1999) and Tide Table (2003). Unlike traditional animation technique, which involves drawing every single movement on a separate piece of paper, Kentridge was creating sequent drawings on the same sheet. That is why Kentridge’s videos and films came to keep the traces of the previous images. They are always traced with a charcoal on big sheets of thick paper. He calls his animations a ‘drawings for projection’ and shows them on a big screen. In a gallery space he presents them as installations.
Kentridge’s artistic performance is not limited to visual arts only – he has also been invited to create a stage design and act as a theatre director in opera. The artist directs operatic spectacles with his own scenography. He has staged Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria (Monteverdi), Die Zauberflöte (Mozart) and The Nose (Shostakovich). In 2015 his production of Alan Berg’s Lulu will première at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.
He is an incredibly individual artist – immune to trends and contemporary art tendencies. His unique style is deeply rooted in European culture, mostly in a German expressionism. It is full of influences of Georg Grosz, Otto Dix, Käthe Kollwitz, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner or Max Beckmann. African art, widely incorporated in his artworks, acts also as a source of inspiration for Kantridge. He tells his humanistic stories of love, suffering and violence settled in a landscape of apartheid and current South African social issues. That is why his creations are often situated near literary output of John Maxwell Coetzee, recipient of the 2003 Nobel Prize in Literature. His artistic objects are exposed in the biggest galleries, at the Venice Biennale and the Documenta in Kassel, on the world’s most important film festivals, including the Edinburgh International Film Festival and the Cannes Festival.
Kentridge visiting Cracow is an unprecedented event. The artist is coming to our country to receive the ASIFA award, which is going to be granted in Poland for the first time in the history.
22. IFF Etiuda&Anima Inauguration + ASIFA Prize for William Kentridge
(tickets and passes to concerts are available for pre-order)
Małopolski Ogród Sztuki – Large Hall
November 23th (Monday) at 8PM