William Kentridge is one of South Africa’s pre-eminent artists, internationally acclaimed for his drawings, films, theatre and opera productions.
Born in Johannesburg, the son of two anti-apartheid lawyers, he studied Politics and African Studies at the University of Witwatersrand in the 1970s, and later co-founded the Junction Avenue Theatre Company. He went on to study Mime and Theatre at the Ecole Jacques Lecoq in Paris. Back in Johannesburg he worked in various areas of television, film and theatre and collaborated on projects with the Handspring Puppet Company.
Kentridge’s work draws on varied sources, including philosophy, literature, early cinema, theatre and opera to create a complex universe where good and evil are complementary and inseparable forces. Although he moves back and forth between media, his primary activity remains drawing and he sometimes conceives of his films, theatre and opera productions as an expanded form of drawing. The artist has spent much of his career intensively exploring themes that resonate with his own life experience as well as with the political issues that most concern him. « I am interested in a political art, » he has stated, « that is to say an art of ambiguity, contradiction, uncompleted gestures and uncertain endings. » His work transforms sobering political events into powerful poetic allegories and it has continually evolved as his subject matter has departed from a specifically South African context to confront more general concerns of social injustice, revolutionary politics and the power of creative expression.
In 2010 Kentridge received the Kyoto Prize in recognition of his contributions in the field of arts and philosophy. In 2011 he was elected a Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and awarded the degree of Doctor of Literature honoris causa by the University of London. In 2012 he delivered the prestigious Norton Lectures at Harvard University. Recently his work has been seen at Tate Modern in London, Jeu de Paume and Louvre in Paris, La Scala in Milan, Albertina in Vienna, Metropolitan Opera and Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo.
-- Quaternaire represents William Kentridge in collaboration with THE OFFICE.