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William Kentridge

South African artist William Kentridge (b.1955, Johannesburg) is renowned for his animated expressionist drawings and films exploring time, the history of colonialism and the aspirations and failures of revolutionary politics. His firm, expressive sketches appear and disappear on all the screens here as he animates his drawings, creating and destroying their vivid imagery. Instead of exhibiting drawings, he shows us the process of drawing as an endless stream of designs and doodles. In one film he draws his own portrait – it comes to life and walks away.

He is interested in a political art, that is to say, an art of ambiguity, contradiction, uncompleted gestures and uncertain ending – an art (and a politics) in which optimism is kept in check, and nihilism at bay.


he has never been able to escape Johannesburg, and in the end, all his works rooted in this rather desperate provincial city. he has never tried to make illustrations of apartheid, but his drawings and films are certainly spawned by and feed off, the brutalised society left in its wake.

On his drawings: “The drawings don’t start with ‘a beautiful mark’. It has to be a mark of something out there in the world. It doesn’t have to be an accurate drawing, but it has to stand for an observation, not something that is abstract, like an emotion.”

Quotations from William Kentridge by Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev (1998), Societé des Expositions du Palais de Beaux-Arts de Bruxelles.


His animations are clearly born from his drawings and blended with a facination with movement much the same way a flip book would intrigue. Political and powerful but with whimsy too. An amazing simplicity and urgency in the animations.

His drawings came to life via animated drawings and collages on a kind of surrealist’s industrial stage with mechanical robots dancing .

In William Kentridge exhibition at Whitechapel  Gallery,  it begins with a visual and hearing blitzkrieg. The Refusal of Time, William Kentridge’s five-screen video installation, is a faint and dizzying mix of films, collage and drawing. Crates in the room suggest the work’s been temporarily taken out,  In the middle, vast, jerking bellows seem to pump the images into being with the rhythmical and repeating  movement . the significant themes was that he has a message or the story to tell and he  found  a very strong visual and imaginations moments and to combined or define them for producing such a strong piece.


The films were also projected on the rough and uneven wall to suggest the viewers feel illusion on the patterns on the wood panel wall or anxious about the whole story by changing and moving from one place to another.

I personally find it very interesting and mesmerizing by not only his drawings and films but yet very fascinating the thoughts behind the space of this gallery.  


His stage making, sounds, theatrical performance, and to engaging his viewers to be in the back and white field and dreaming gesture. which allows us to travel with him through his films and installations. I think he is very successful to send his message across to his audiences in this way.


 The wonder-ness and absurdity in Kentridge’s multimedia environments and animated drawings is the technique he’s known for, and he uses magical stop-motion techniques to make his forms appear and disappear, turn into film or college, or, in the used books, to show on dictionary pages in a cinematic flip-book.


The films are heavy works, accompanied by dense, evocative musical scores and peopled with torn-paper forms or crudely rendered figures

It is clear that Kentridge makes his regular appearances, either in his drawings or in his films.This self-reflexivity adds a significant layer to the figure of the artist-as-conjurer, asserting an unequivocally ethical dimension to the work of both image production and its reception. 

He is exploring many mix ideas, forms and processes to create his works through his vivid, stirring imagination. Him, as a  main subject/object  or the story teller which I think I would take away from this exhibition. Using own life experience and translation themes it has be always my interest in my own practice.

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