William Kentridge - South Africa, the revolution and the art

William Kentridge is South Africa's most famous artist: white, Jewish, and with a playful artistic temperament. Yet in his work, he has engaged like no other artist in an intensive confrontation with the strife that has torn his country apart, and with the topic of racism. He has become known worldwide for his animated films and charcoal drawings; meanwhile, he has also produced designs for operas and song recitals. Kentridge is a universal artist who never ceases to invent something new. Kentridge was born in Johannesburg in 1955, where he still lives with his family. He grew up in a politicized family; his father was a lawyer who represented the most important resistance fighters in the country, among them Nelson Mandela. Unlike his father Sydney, William opted early on for a creative career. The art of William Kentridge narrates the story of a long-suffering country, but also the story of resistance, change, and upheaval. Everything that changes is humanly necessary, everything that follows fixed structures is dangerous. His art is never detached or didactic, is always characterized by self-forgetful play, by limitless associations. ”For me, it is never a question of an explicit message. I see my art as an alternative to enlightenment. Clear messages led my country toward disintegration. My thinking is fostered by the provisional.“ Is he finished today with the theme of apartheid? ”Today, the themes are the same as before. It is a question of social turmoil, of freedom, of self-determination. I have always been active on that emotional level. That has never changed. Today, however, I am preoccupied with science, with physics, and create more stage sets than earlier. But in the end, it is always a question of how we cope with insecurity, whether we allow it to destroy us.“

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