Archive: Issue No. 64, December 2002

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William Kentridge

William Kentridge
Art in a State of Hope, 1998
Panel from triptych
Silkscreen on paper
160 x 100cm

William Kentridge

William Kentridge
Art in a State of Siege, 1998
Panel from triptych
Silkscreen on paper
160 x 100cm

William Kentridge

William Kentridge
Drawing from Sleeping on Glass, 1999

William Kentridge

William Kentridge
History of the Main Complaint, 1996
Video still


The Big Homecoming: William Kentridge at the SANG
by Sean O'Toole

William Kentridge's touring retrospective finally arrives in South Africa. Curated by the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, the show has drawn significant praise from American audiences. Far from validating Kentridge's output, this praise simply buttresses the long-held opinion of local audiences.

True, this might sound like a bit of over eager editorialising aimed at valorising Kentridge. Thus, instead of repeating our own high regard of Kentridge's output, we thought it opportune to present a collection of quotes that pithily define the tenets of the current retrospective, as well as the significance of Kentridge's work generally. The quotes have been culled from a variety of sources, and represent a broad range of critical opinions.

"This is indeed the sort of art � committed, vigorous and far-reaching � that makes a lot of other art seem petty." -- Holly Myers, LA Weekly, September 13 - 19, 2002

"Kentridge's work is so arresting, so unexpected, and so unplaceable that it is truly refreshing." --Adrian Searle, The Guardian, April 20, 1999

"Kentridge offers flagellatory tales of South Africa's historical violence. He also offers himself, a mediated self to be sure, but one surprisingly willing to be scrutinised and psychoanalysed." -- Brenda Atkinson, M&G, June 11, 1999

"History and fiction, the autobiographical and the invented, blur together, along with the characters whose lives we follow in Kentridge's work." --Adrian Searle, The Guardian, April 20, 1999

"Like the retrospective itself, Kentridge's work exists under the sign of exile." -- George Baker, Artforum, November, 2001

"The images refer again and again to the cycles of history � the interplay between construction and destruction, hope and grief, amnesia and memory ("between paper shredders and photocopying machines," as Kentridge has characterized the present-day condition in his country)." -- Holly Myers, LA Weekly, September 13 - 19, 2002

"Kentridge's visual commentary on the situation during and after apartheid in his native South Africa can be lyrical, darkly humorous, or brutally frank. His is an art of the palimpsest, an archaeology of memory." -- Gregory Williams, Artforum, June 2001

"The crucial questions for the work of art today arise again from its expulsion into a space between the mediums of art. Kentridge occupies this interspace precisely, far from the "confusion of mediums" lamented by Clement Greenberg before the onset of the corrective that was modernism. Far too from "assemblage" or what was called "intermedia." Rosalind Krauss's notion that Kentridge is one of a series of artists involved today in "inventing" a new medium lies closest to the precision of his work." -- George Baker, Artforum, November, 2001

"These days, South Africa's most effortlessly famous artist is making work that is more and more an allegory of the fragile self dreaming omnipotence in a world of confused hyper-realities." -- Brenda Atkinson, M&G, June 11, 1999

Although Kentridge's touring retrospective has already been reviewed on ArtThrob by Laurie Farrell, associate curator at the Museum for African Art, New York, ArtThrob will again offer a detailed South African perspective of the SANG exhibition in our next update.

Read Laurie Farrell's review, 'Mainstream America meets William Kentridge' at:
www.artthrob.co.za/01sept/reviews/kentridge.html

For an insightful overview of Kentridge's activities up until May 1999, you can also refer to ArtThrob's Art Bio profile at:
www.artthrob.co.za/99may/artbio.htm

For a taste of the Kentridge show, check www.museums.org.za/sang for the special feature.

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