The Hayward/South Bank are holding a major, touring exhibition of South African artist William Kentridge’s work, with its provocative title, ‘A Universal Archive’, promising a trove-like collection of Kentridge’s innovative prints. With dates ranging from 1988 to new work, as yet not shown, and also coinciding with the recent, extremely productive period of the artist’s work, it looks to evidence Kentridge’s interest in memory, text, and literature as well as the interaction between his printmaking – an accessible form, having specific resonances for the South Africa in which it is produced – and his theatre, opera, and film productions.
Anticipated (personal) highlights include:
- Nose (2007-2010) created for Kentridge’s restaging of Shostokovich’s 1930 opera of the same name, itself inspired by Gogol’s short story from 1836 in which a man’s nose escapes his face to gain a higher social status. The process of restaging the opera gave rise to Kentridge’s 8 video installation piece, I am not me, the horse is not mine, shown at the Tate Tanks late last year and reviewed on AiW here.
- Portage (2000), an accordion-folded multi-panelled book, 4 metres long, with torn paper silhouetted figures collaged onto unbound pages of the French encyclopedia Le Nouveau Larousse Illustré – also anticipates and evokes the animated procession of ‘A Lifetime of Enthusiasm’ of Kentridge’s I am not me, the horse is not mine (2008).
- Ubu Tells the Truth (1996-7, from which the opening and closing images of this post are taken) – a series of eight etchings that gave rise to the superb and challenging theatre production, Ubu and the Truth Commission, first performed at The Laboratory in Johannesburg’s Market Theatre in May 1997, under the direction of Kentridge. Written by Jane Taylor, and produced by the Handspring Puppet Company, Ubu and the Truth Commission combines Kentridge’s animation – Kentridge’s chalk drawn figure was projected above the action onstage – with live actors, puppetry, music and documentary footage with original testimony from South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
- Walking Man and Telephone Lady (both 2000), two life-sized figures in lino cut.
Tour dates (still available):
16 March – 2 June 2013.
Exhibition talk and reception with leading Kentridge expert Kate McCrickard, followed by a screening of a selection of Kentridge’s film works.
9 May 2013.
15 June – 18 August 2013
University of Northumbria Gallery, Newcastle
30 August – 11 October 2013
For more on ‘A Universal Archive’, see the Hayward’s information (also excerpted below):
William Kentridge is one of South Africa’s pre-eminent artists, internationally acclaimed for his films, drawings, theatre and opera productions. He is also an innovative and prolific printmaker; he studied etching at the Johannesburg Art Foundation, and printmaking has remained central to his work ever since. In the past two and a half decades he has produced more than 400 prints, including etchings, engravings, aquatints, silkscreens, linocuts and lithographs, often experimenting with challenging formats and combinations of techniques. Many of his key themes are explored in his prints and he has said that there have been ‘many projects that have ended up as either a piece of theatre or an animated film which have their origins in printmaking’.
This major exhibition will include 100 prints in all media, from 1988 to the present, with a stress on experimental and serial works. Kentridge has been working on a new series of prints which will be included and shown here for the first time. His distinctive use of light and shadow and silhouettes, his concern with memory and perspective, and his absorption in literary texts, are all strongly in evidence. The prints range in scale from intimate etchings and drypoints to linocuts measuring 2.5 metres high.
…The exhibition is organised with the generous cooperation of David Krut, in whose Johannesburg print studio William Kentridge produced many of his prints, and the artist’s studio. The catalogue includes an essay by Rosalind Krauss and a recent discussion between Kate McCrickard and the artist about his approach to printmaking.
This exhibition coincides with an exceptionally productive period in the artist’s career.William Kentridge: Five Themes opened at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and has shown at major museums in the United States, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, as well as museums and galleries in Paris, Vienna, Jerusalem and Moscow, and will travel to the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, Melbourne in 2012. His production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute at La Scala in Milan and his presentation of Shostakovich’sThe Nose at New York’s Metropolitan Opera in Spring 2010, were widely praised. In 2012, William Kentridge premiered a new work at Documenta 13, Kassel, Germany.
Ubu Tells the Truth (1996-7)
Etching with soft ground, aquatint and drypoint
© the artist (2011)
Portage (2000) (detail)
Chine collé of figures from black Canson paper on multiple spreads from Le Nouveau Larousse Illustré Encyclopaedia
© the artist (2011)
Telephone Lady (2000)
Linocut on rice paper and canvas
© the artist (2011)