Subtlety and humour in new show at NGA

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AN EXHIBITION devoted to South African contemporary artist, William Kentridge, was unveiled at The National Gallery of Australia today.

William KENTRIDGE 1955.” Walking man” 2000, linocut, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, The Poynton Bequest 2013
William KENTRIDGE 1955.” Walking man” 2000, linocut, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, The Poynton Bequest 2013
Kentridge’s works are inspired by society and politics in South African and expressed a variety of media such as film, tapestry design, drawing and printmaking.

The gallery has been collecting the work of Kentridge for some time.

Born during 1955 in Johannesburg, Kentridge’s parents were involved in supporting South Africa’s anti-apartheid activists, making, in his view, abstract art and conceptual art ‘an impossible activity’ in the country.

“Much of what was contemporary in Europe and America during the 1960s and 1970s seemed distant and incomprehensible to me.  Images became familiar from exhibitions and publications but the impulses behind the work did not make the transcontinental jump to South Africa,” he has said.

According to Jane Kinsman, senior curator, International Prints and Drawings at the NGA, Kentridge’s art belongs to the tradition of figurative artists of the past like  William Hogarth, Francisco Goya and Honoré Daumier as well as the German Expressionists Max Beckmann and George Grosz.

She noted that charcoal was an ideal medium as adding to and subtracting from compositions provided Kentridge with the ability to explore his subjects without finality. The process also facilitated his hand-drawn films which he erased and augmented his drawings during the process of filming.

As he matured, Kinsman said, “Kentridge addressed political subjects but not in a strident way. There is a remarkable lightness of touch, a subtlety that is enhanced by juxtaposition, metaphor, irony and a sense of the absurd or of humour.”

“William Kentridge: Drawn from Africa” temporary exhibition gallery, at  the National Gallery of Australia until November 3,   Free admission.

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