Sunday, May 23, 2010

William Kentridge: Five Themes

One of my very favorite artists, South African William Kentridge, just had an exhbit at the MoMA. He's best known for his charcoal drawing animated films that explore issues of race, apartheid, totalitarianism and self-hood. He uses the same sheet of paper over and over, drawing, erasing, drawing more, so that as the animation progresses, there appears an ever more dense background, moving forward in the story without breaking from its past. His drawings are poetry in motion and one of the most beautiful things I've seen. I missed this and I thoroughly regret it.

This large-scale exhibition surveys nearly three decades of work by William Kentridge (b. 1955, South Africa), a remarkably versatile artist whose work combines the political with the poetic. Dealing with subjects as sobering as apartheid, colonialism, and totalitarianism, his work is often imbued with dreamy, lyrical undertones or comedic bits of self-deprecation that render his powerful messages both alluring and ambivalent. Best known for animated films based on charcoal drawings, he also works in prints, books, collage, sculpture, and the performing arts. This exhibition explores five primary themes in Kentridge’s art from the 1980s to the present, and underscores the inter relatedness of his mediums and disciplines, particularly through a selection of works from the Museum’s collection. Included are works related to the artist’s staging and design of Dmitri Shostakovich’s The Nose,which premieres at New York’s Metropolitan Opera in March 2010.