Art@Site William Kentridge Action Cape Town

William Kentridge



William Kentridge: “Action is a sculpture of a movie camera. It's based on an old movie camera that I've had in my studio for some time. A little bit different to this camera, which is the camera that all the animated films were made on for many years. So on the one hand, it's a kind of personal talisman.
It's not exactly a self portrait though, there's something of the portliness of the short legs of the camera, in the sculpture, which feels a kind of self portrait. It started off as a tiny sketch in a notebook expanded from the tiny sketch in a notebook to a sculpture that you could hold in your hands if you were holding the word, camera.
And then it was enlarged to a scale sort of large tabletop scale, which is not a straightforward enlargement, a lot of the objects there's different to what it is to look down on a small sculpture, or to look straight on at a tabletop sculpture, and to look at a three and a half meter sculpture.
The first sculpture is made out of wax whicis cast in bronze. The next one also starts off maybe with a kind of polyurethane foam inside which is then covered with wax and shaped. And the large one has been sort of 3d printed enlargement made in polystyrene to give the rough bulk and shape. And then it was reshaped with a mixture of a machete and an electric carving knife to adjust the basic form, and then covered with plaster of paris of and that is carved into and scraped into, and new sections added and the top cut off and then its angle changed.
And once the large plaster of paris version of the full-scale sculptures is made, it gets cut into sections and mold made, and then the bronze cast from those molds. And then those sections welded together, and ground down to get the surface at one had in the original Plaster of Paris, which is a version of somewhat different from the medium size and very different to the small size. So while making the sculpture, the work is essentially about the translation of scale and surface and working technique, rather than meaning.
And I've never really questioned what the meaning of the work is. I've never thought of it as a self portrait until now talking to you. Now this moment, there's something I suppose of a Sunday Times comics section from my early childhood, for a character called the little King, who also had fat pointed legs and a good belly.
And maybe there's an echo even of this childhood image in the sculpture.
It is certainly a sculpture which is about a technology which I used to use, but don't use nearly as much. In South Africa, there are no longer film laboratories that will process 35 millimetre film.
There is something that I suppose of the heroic in it, in its size and it's confidence.
But more than that, I couldn't say what it means.
In its original incarnation, William Kentridge’s Lexicon is a series of 44 small scale bronzes created by the artist in 2017. The series is an accumulation of elemental symbols within his larger practice This sculptural vocabulary is comprised of the icons, ubiquitous in Kentridge's creations, which are dispersed throughout all of the media in which he works. Kentridge has chosen just three of the original set of 44 to translate into bronzes on a monumental scale, each standing 3.5 metres high. These bronzes are to be shown for the first time in his forthcoming solo exhibtion, at the Norval Foundation in Cape Town, which opens in late August 2019.

William Kentridge: “In some silent invisible vestibule of the brain, the images are caught, apprehended, interrogated, and sent, brushed up, to the resting place as a horse. The sheet of paper is simply a visible extension of the retina, an emblematic demonstration of that which we know but cannot see. Our projection, our moving out toward the image, is an essential part of what it is to see, to be in the world with our eyes open.”
William Kentridge, Six Drawing Lessons, (The Charles Eliot Norton Lectures), pub. Harvard University Press, 2014.
William Kentridge (born 28 April 1955) is a South African artist best known for his prints, drawings, and animated films. These are constructed by filming a drawing, making erasures and changes, and filming it again. He continues this process meticulously, giving each change to the drawing a quarter of a second to two seconds' screen time. A single drawing will be altered and filmed this way until the end of a scene. These palimpsest-like drawings are later displayed along with the films as finished pieces of art.
Kentridge has created art work as part of design of theatrical productions, both plays and operas. He has served as art director and overall director of numerous productions, collaborating with other artists, puppeteers and others in creating productions that combine drawings and multi-media combinations.
Kentridge believed that being ethnically Jewish gave him a unique position as a third-party observer in South Africa. His parents were lawyers, well-known for their defence of victims of apartheid. Kentridge developed an ability to remove himself somewhat from the atrocities committed under the later regimes. The basics of South Africa's socio-political condition and history must be known to grasp his work fully, much the same as in the cases of such artists as Francisco Goya and Käthe Kollwitz.
Kentridge has practiced expressionist art: form often alludes to content and vice versa. The feeling that is manipulated by the use of palette, composition and media, among others, often plays an equally vital role in the overall meaning as the subject and narrative of a given work. One must use one's gut reactions as well as one's interpretive skills to find meaning in Kentridge's work, much of which reveals very little content. Due to the sparse, rough and expressive qualities of Kentridge's handwriting, the viewer sees a sombre picture upon first glance, an impression that is perpetuated as the image illustrates a vulnerable and uncomfortable situation.
Aspects of socal injustice that have transpired over the years in South Africa have often become fodder for Kentridge's pieces. Casspirs Full of Love, viewable at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, appears to be nothing more than heads in boxes to the average American viewer, but South Africans know that a casspir is a vehicle used to put down riots, a kind of a crowd-control tank.
The title, Casspirs Full of Love, written along the side of the print, is suggestive of the narrative and is oxymoronic. A casspir full of love is much like a bomb that bursts with happiness – it is an intangible improbability. The purpose of a machine such as this is to insti"peace" by force, but Kentridge noted that it was used as a tool to keep lower-class natives from taking colonial power and money.
In 2009, Kentridge, in partnership with Gerhard Marx, created a 10m-tall sculpture for his home city of Johannesburg entitled Fire Walker. In 2012 his sculpture, Il cavaliere di Toledo, was unveiled in Naples. Rebus (2013), referring in title to the allusional device using pictures to represent words or parts of words, is a series of bronze sculptures that form two distinct images when turned to a certain angle; when paired in correspondence, for example, a final image – a nude – is created from two original forms – a stamp and a tele