William Kentridge Director


South African-born William Kentridge is one of the most prolific artists of the last twenty years. Primarily a draughtsman, he is also an illustrator, sculptor, filmmaker, actor and director. He follows in the footsteps of artists who, from Leonardo da Vinci to Pablo Picasso, have mastered every form of expression, from drawing to theatrical staging. To these he has added the resources of his era: video, animation and performance. This virtuoso of staging and moving images offers us a vision, both poetic and critical, of some of the most sensitive subjects such as decolonisation, apartheid, political conflicts or the role of Africa in the First World War. Since Sophiatown, his first play denouncing the crimes of Apartheid (1986-1989), Kentridge has developed a visual work that resembles shadow theatre. He comes to grips with the twilight zones of our history in order to make the invisible visible. At the end of the 1980s, he invented a cinematographic technique that he named "poor man's animation". This process consists of making a drawing, reworking parts of it (by adding or deleting elements), and filming the changes frame by frame. The result is a short animated film, the sole record of the different stages in the drawing's development. In 1981, he moved to Paris and attended the Jacques Lecoq school of theatre and mime. There he discovered a form of theatre centred on gesture and the dynamics of movement, where text is secondary. These two years in Paris were decisive: henceforth he would continually reinvent this corporeal work in his performances and stagings, developing a new formal repertoire particularly innovative for its use of video. In addition to Wozzeck, premiered in 2017 at the Salzburg Festival, he has directed The Magic Flute, The Nose and Lulu. In 2016, on the occasion of the anniversary of the foundation of Rome, William Kentridge unveiled Triumphs and Laments, a monumental ephemeral frieze 550 metres long and 10 metres high, on the right bank of the Tiber. In 2019, he received the Praemium Imperiale (awarded by the imperial family in Japan), in the painting category.

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