100 World Class South Africans: William Kentridge

2013-05-21 12:00

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A singular vision

Acting’s loss was art’s gain – William Kentridge had hoped for a career on the stage (he even studied mime at the Jacques Lecoq school in Paris).

Instead, he took his love for storytelling and channelled it into fine art.

His most famous works, simple charcoal drawings brought to life in profound stop-motion animated films, are quite unlike any other artist’s. Kentridge’s work is filled with the nuances of SA’s sociopolitics; he does not believe in abstract, emotional art but in depicting reality, ‘something out there in the world’.

Today he is SA’s most prominent artist, producing thought-provoking works across media and disciplines, including opera, puppetry, sculpture and, most recently, tapestry.

He is ranked by the Artfacts Index as the ninth most significant modern contemporary artist in the world; in 2011 he was awarded Japan’s Kyoto Prize for lifetime achievement in arts and philosophy, and in 2012 delivered the prestigious Norton Lectures at Harvard.

His works tour the globe, from MoMA and the Louvre to the Cannes Film Festival and screens in New York’s Times Square.

Kentridge could easily live in any of the world’s art capitals but his creativity is hard-wired to Johannesburg, where he continues to work from a studio downtown.

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