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William Kentridge Prints

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William Kentridge is a noted graphic designer, filmmaker and an activist (of theater arts) from South Africa. In the 1990s he had produced a series of movies with hand-drawn animated characters. There was a pungent humanism in all of his works which influenced a large section of European artists like William Hogarth, Honoré Daumier and Francisco de Goya.

William Kentridge was born on 28th April 1955 in Johannesburg, South Africa. He had learned to question the structural impositions from an early childhood, thanks to his family background (his parents were both anti-apartheid lawyers). He graduated in Politics and African Studies in the year 1976 from the University of the Witwatersrand. Thereafter he studied art at the Johannesburg Art Foundation till the year 1978. Here he met Dumile Feni who had greatly influenced his drawings. Kentridge had designed film sets, worked as an actor, wrote plays and had taught printing with designs. In the year 1981, he moved to Paris and studied drama from L'École Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq.

After completing his course in 1982, he worked as an art director for feature films and television series. This was the time when he started making animated films which were hand-drawn. Kentridge started getting international recognition; he was identified as an artist from South Africa whose works reflected his personal route post the Colonialism and Apartheid era. His films had a backdrop of exploitative, scorched mining and industrial landscapes of Johannesburg, representing a legacy of injustice and abuse. From 1975-1991, he was a member of the Junction Avenue Theatre Company in Soweto and Johannesburg. Since 1989, Kentridge made a series of 9 films; all of them aptly portrayed the complications of a postcolonial nation (ending of the apartheid system, 1st election and the efforts of Truth and Reconciliation Commission).

In the year 1992, Kentridge began a collaboration with the Handspring Puppet Theater in Cape Town. The company is involved mainly in the creation of multimedia pieces with live actors, animations and puppets. He worked with this company in different capacities – actor, set designer and director.
Describing his work, Kentridge once said, "I am interested in a political art, that is to say an art of ambiguity, contradiction, uncompleted gestures and uncertain ending - an art (and a politics) in which optimism is kept in check, and nihilism at bay."

It was clear that Kentridge was passionate about visual arts which had its roots in his interest in theatrical arts. The character development and narrative structure of his films were explicit about his connection with theatrical arts. He had explored several dimensions of art but his contribution is centered on the series of his animated films. Producing these films was quite a lengthy and complex procedure – first, a rough drawing was made with charcoal, then it was photographed, then the drawing was altered and photographed again and it continued this way.

Some of his famous movies include “Johannesburg, 2nd Greatest City after Paris”, “Felix in Exile”, “Ubu tells the Truth”, “Stereoscope”, “Other Faces” etc.

This year, Kentridge unveiled his largest “public work” on the auspicious occasion of the founding day of Rome. The work is called “Triumphs and Laments” and is a huge mural on the bank of the Tiber River.

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