An Art Calendar Must: William Kentridge’s Double Exhibition in Cape Town

William Kentridge. Image via Ocula

Acclaimed South African artist, William Kentridge is exhibiting an extensive retrospective at two of Cape Town’s newest and most prominent galleries. The first is the famed Zeitz MOCAA (opened in 2017), the second, Norval Foundation, opened just last year.

‘Why Should I Hesitate: Putting Drawings to Work’ at Zeitz MOCAA. Courtesy of William Kentridge Studio

The title of the split exhibition is Why Should I Hesitate? and references Kentridge’s primary practice of drawing and how this core activity informs and enables his studio practice. According to the artists, it also references the impact of individual action on history and the reverse – how history shapes the contemporary and the future – and works as a commentary on the power of politics, economics, language and the authority to narrate history.

Appropriately, the Norval focuses on Kentridge’s sculptures while the Zeitz showcasing his drawings, printmaking, films and tapestries. Together, it is the Johannesburg-based artist’s largest exhibition to be held in Africa in over a decade!


Why Should I Hesitate? Putting Drawings To Work

Why Should I Hesitate? Putting Drawings To Work is currently staged at Zeitz MOCAA and features a vast array of Kentridge’s work, including early pieces as well as newer pieces on view for the first time in South Africa. It covers over 40 years of artistic production (1976 to 2019) in drawing, stop-frame animation, video, prints, sculpture, tapestry, video, short documentaries describing how his works are made, and large-scale installation. Despite the enormous array of material on view, amazingly, the displays cover only half of Kentridge’s total filmic output and a mere two percent of his drawings.

O Sentimental Machine, by William Kentridge, installation view at Zeitz MOCAA. Courtesy of William Kentridge Studio

Look out for More Sweetly Play the Dance (2015), an eight-channel video installation featuring a procession of marching figures seen in silhouette. Previously on show at the museum in reduced form, the piece now unfurls across all 40m of its intended length.


Why Should I Hesitate? Sculpture

Why Should I Hesitate? Sculpture showcases the three-dimensional work of William Kentridge from the past 19 years. This is the first exhibition internationally to address Kentridge’s sculptoral works. Why Should I Hesitate? Sculpture is an exercise in bringing to life scenes from his operas and images from his animations – almost as if they have stepped off the stage and out of the screen. Why Should I Hesitate? Sculpture also premieres new works commissioned especially for the exhibition.

Source: Norval Foundation

“Kentridge’s sculptures embrace a spontaneous approach and have recently evolved towards the massive and the monumental. Simultaneously, and in tension to the monumental aspects of his practice, he is revealed to be a choreographer as much as a sculptor,” says Karel Nel, senior advising curator at Norval Foundation.

’Why Should I Hesitate: Sculpture’ at Norval Foundation. Photography: Dave Southwood. Courtesy of Norval Foundation

Attend both exhibitions

Why Should I Hesitate? Sculpture will be on view at Norval Foundation in Tokai from 24 August 2019 to 23 March 2020.

Why Should I Hesitate? Putting Drawings To Work will be on display at Zeitz MOCAA at the V&A Waterfront’s Silo District from 25 August 2019 to 23 March 2020.


Blog post by Tarah Darge

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