South African artist William Kentridge is widely regarded as one of the world’s most influential artists making work today and this is his first solo exhibition in Ireland.
He was born in Johannesburg in 1955 where he continues to live and work. An exploration of the human reality of South Africa’s political situation has been at the core of much of his practice and his work presents an arresting and forceful commentary on the contemporary cultural and socio-political issues in South Africa. Inspired by music, opera, literature, and banal or troubling everyday events, the artist creates highly personal and often haunting works in a variety of media.
This exhibition includes 3 major film works, Tide Table, 7 Fragments for Georges Méliés and Journey to the Moon are typical of the animation for which he is best known – a simple technique of drawing, filming a few frames, erasing and then drawing some more. A suite of 14 superb dry point etchings and archival material from the artist will also be exhibited.
Tide Table, 2003 sees the return of the fictional character Soho Eckstein who appeared in a series of Kentridge’s films from the late 1980’s and 1990’s. Eckstein is a suited property developer who symbolises the white ruling elite that established, maintained and benefited from the apartheid system. Over the series of ‘Soho Eckstein’ films Kentridge explored the collapse of this system and the move to democracy through the experiences of this character. In Tide Table we find the character alone sitting on a beach, still in his pin- stripe suit, although in suggested retirement.
The other 2 works in the exhibition 7 Fragments for Georges Méliès and Journey to the Moon, both made in 2003, are a series of films influenced by the experimental 19th century French filmmaker George Méliès. Méliès, originally a stage magician is known for a series of short films, which explored film’s potential for illusion and visual trickery. This ‘low-tech’ experimentation with the playful possibility of film can be seen in these films where the everyday props found in his studio are transformed into imaginary telescopes and spaceships and drawings are made by ants walking through sugar. Several of the films humorously allude to the frustration of the artist pacing the studio, waiting for inspiration – the artist in the studio as subject, which again references the films of Méliès. Later references can also be found to the famous film of the action painter Jackson Pollock ‘performing’ in his studio and the 1960’s films of the American conceptual artist Bruce Naumann where the artist’s banal repetitive movements around his studio were recorded as the work. As Kentridge comments ‘the studio as canvas and himself as brush and mark in one.’
William Kentridge has exhibited extensively around the world. His solo exhibitions have included shows in the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Smithsonian Institute, Washington, the Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, as well in most major cities across the world. A retrospective exhibition is currently touring worldwide and has shown in Dusseldorf, Turin, and Sydney in the past year. His work can be also be found in many prestigious public collections, including those of the Tate Modern, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and The South African National Gallery. In October 2003 Kentridge received the prestigious Goslar Kaisserring in recognition of his contribution to contemporary art. The films 7 Fragments for Georges Méliès and Journey to the Moon were presented at the 51st Venice Biennale in 2005.
The exhibition has been made possible through a shared production initiative by the Model, Limerick City Gallery of Art and The Model Arts and Niland Gallery, Sligo.