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William Kentridge (1955), Merit award winner of the 1985 Cape Town Triennial

Conservationists’ Ball, 1985 Charcoal and mix media on paper, 204 x 364cm Rembrandt van Rijn Art Foundation, Stellenbosch

William Kentridge was born in Johannesburg, South Africa and is the son of famous advocate Sydney Kentridge. He studied Political Science and African Studies at WITS and later enrolled in Paris at the famous theatre school of Jacques Lecoq. He then furthered he artistic studies at the Johannesburg Art Foundation. Kentridge was also awarded with the Gold Medal in the 1991 Cape Town Triennial for his work – Sobriety obesity and growing old.

Kentridge is well known for his unique charcoal drawings, but he also works in pastel, oil, pencil and various graphic media. In the eighties he was known for his controversial animated film productions and involved in several drama and opera productions. He gained more attention for his fantastical life size animal designs for the Handspring Puppet Company in Johannesburg.

Kentridge is a distinguished artist and has won several national and international awards. In 2010 he received the prestigious Kyoto Award in Japan for his contribution to art, science and philosophy. The Kyoto Award is known as similar to the Nobel Prize and is annually awarded. He is the first South African to receive this prize and noted as one of SA’s most successful and high respected contemporary artists of our time.

Stefan Hundt (2013) touched upon the following in a lecture:

The satirical substance of the title and sub-titles is communicated in various subtle details of the scenes enacted, in iconographical allusions and in visual puns.

  • Panel I – Culling
  • Panel II – Game watching
  • Panel III – Taming

Kentridge communicates by means of metaphors; and with repeated use his pictorial motifs, which he contracts into a personal hieroglyphic code.

Today Kentridge artworks can be seen all over the world in some of the best and well known art museums and collections; from Venice to Hiroshima, from Paris to New York, Amsterdam to India, Brasil to Portugal and Australia to Spain.


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