Eesha Patkar takes a look at one of South Africa’s foremost artists and filmmakers

WILLIAM KENTRIDGE - RETROSPECTIVE at Johannesburg Art Gallery (3 July - 23 October 2005), Exhibition Poster

WILLIAM KENTRIDGE – RETROSPECTIVE at Johannesburg Art Gallery (3 July – 23 October 2005), Exhibition Poster

William Kentridge, one of South Africa’s leading artists and authorities on the subject of apartheid, has made his way to StoryLTD. For the next few weeks, we are featuring prints and posters from his art shows around the world.

Our collection of posters shows Kentridge’s continued presence in his hometown of Johannesburg where he exhibited steadily at the Goodman Gallery, but internationally as well, at Annandale Galleries in Sydney, Australia, and K20 Grabbeplatz in Düsseldorf, Germany. These are, of course, mere hints of the entire breadth of Kentridge’s achievements.

Between the mid-1970s to the late 1980s, Kentridge started and developed a reputation as a charcoal artist and printmaker. In the ’90s, he produced the first of his many animated films—Monument (1990), Sobriety, Obesity & Growing Old (1991), Felix in Exile (1994), to name a few—a series of nine films that he eventually exhibited together as the “9 Drawings for Projection.” You can find the poster for this exhibit here.

9 FILMS - WILLIAM KENTRIDGE 9 DRAWINGS FOR PROJECTION, Old Fort, Constitution Hill, Johannesburg, 22 -24 March 2004, Exhibition Poster

9 FILMS – WILLIAM KENTRIDGE 9 DRAWINGS FOR PROJECTION, Old Fort, Constitution Hill, Johannesburg, 22 -24 March 2004, Exhibition Poster

Among others, we also have two posters that were once part of a limited edition triptych series. The posters themselves are designs for Kentridge’s six minute short film A Lifetime of Enthusiasm that was part of the installation “Telegrams from the Nose” at the Annandale Galleries in 2008. The third one remains elusive as of now, but those intent on possessing it and completing their collection can make a quest of it.

WILLIAM KENTRIDGE - A LIFETIME OF ENTHUSIASM, Annandale Galleries Poster for Telegrams From The Nose, 11 June to 17 July, 2008.

WILLIAM KENTRIDGE – A LIFETIME OF ENTHUSIASM, Annandale Galleries Poster for Telegrams From The Nose, 11 June to 17 July, 2008.

WILLIAM KENTRIDGE - A LIFETIME OF ENTHUSIASM, Annandale Galleries Poster for Telegrams From The Nose, 11 June to 17 July, 2008

WILLIAM KENTRIDGE – A LIFETIME OF ENTHUSIASM, Annandale Galleries Poster for Telegrams From The Nose, 11 June to 17 July, 2008

Kentridge’s works were hardly ever standalone pieces: when he focused on a project, he created a cornucopia of art work that he abhorred to waste. It all became part of his narrative somehow, either in the original piece that he was designing it for, or a retrospective afterwards. For instance, the 2005 poster “Preparing the Flute” was designed for the exhibition celebrating Kentridge’s operatic production of Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte/The Magic Flute that opened earlier that year at the La Monnaie theatre in Brussels, Belgium.

WILLIAM KENTRIDGE - PREPARING THE FLUTE, The Goodman Gallery Johannesburg, South Africa, 4th June to 16th July, Exhibition Poster

WILLIAM KENTRIDGE – PREPARING THE FLUTE, The Goodman Gallery Johannesburg, South Africa, 4th June to 16th July, Exhibition Poster

Likewise, with this poster designed for the 16th Sydney Biennale in 2008, featuring one of Kentridge’s famous collaborative pieces “Telegrams from the Nose.” The exhibit at Cockatoo Island, during which he worked with composer Francois Sarhan, consisted of a multi-projection film titled I Am Not Me, The Horse Is Not Mine (2008) and referred to a future production of an opera that he directed for the Metropolitan Opera of New York at the time.

WILLIAM KENTRIDGE - TELEGRAMS FROM THE NOSE, 16th Biennale of Sydney, 2008, Exhibition Poster

WILLIAM KENTRIDGE – TELEGRAMS FROM THE NOSE, 16th Biennale of Sydney, 2008, Exhibition Poster

The opera, which premiered in 2010, was a re-adaptation of Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich’s 1930 opera The Nose, originally borrowed from the short story by the famous Nikolai Gogol.

I first read Gogol’s The Nose sometime in 2010 myself—in tandem with Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis—both stories evoking the feeling of absurd, a genre that was particularly relevant and heavily employed in literature, theatre and arts of early 20th century, post-war Europe. Of course, Gogol wrote The Nose much earlier in 1836, to be revived by Shostakovich a century later. There have been several reappropriations of the story over time, but it has never been more consistently experimented on and beautifully explored than in the works and art of Kentridge.

Kentridge, already well-known for his politically inflected work, sought to incorporate the absurdity of The Nose into a series of palimpsestic works of art that defied any clear medium. His charcoal drawings became stop-action animated films that turned into highly interactive multimedia installations. And practically everything that he worked on during 2007 and 2010 was gearing towards the grand pièce de résistance, the final opera.

Gogol wrote The Nose, like most of his short stories (The Overcoat), as a satirical device poking fun at the egotistical excesses of Russian politics during his time. In it, a barber named Ivan Yakovlevich finds a pale nose in the bread he’s about to eat for breakfast. It belongs to Kovalyov—“Major Kovalyov” as he pompously deigns himself—a member of the Municipal Committee. Afraid to be seen with a bureaucrat’s appendage, the barber throws it off the Isaac bridge in the Neva river below. Meanwhile, the Major has just woken up without his nose attached to his face, and proceeds to spend the rest of his day trying to find it and commandeering the local police to catch it for him.

Ludicrous in narrative, yet clever in form, Gogol transforms the nose as a metaphorical and synecdochical arc to puncture the flatulent grandiose of not just the Major, but his peers and superiors as well. The value of a socially acceptable and dignified appearance, given importance through sartorial mentions of uniforms, coats, and cloaks—or lack thereof, in case of the barber—is particularly striking. The Major’s appearance is marred (“flat as a pancake”) without his nose, leaving him impotent and unable to “snub his nose” at those he encounters daily. But I find the Indian idiom “naak kat gayi”—literary translated as “nose cut off”—far more apt here. To find one’s nose (figuratively) cut off, is to be humiliated, ashamed and beaten even. Which is exactly what happens to the Major: he hides, blusters in shame and doesn’t regain his confidence until his nose is returned to its rightful place. Of course, he fails to find any humility in the process and continues in his megalomaniac ways, reaffirming the story for the satire it truly is.

During his work on the opera, Kentridge saw parallels between the politics of Russian bureaucracy and South African socio-economic politics of his own homeland. He found the Absurd as a perfect vehicle for expressing and exploring this dynamic: “(t)he extraordinary nonsense hierarchy of apartheid in South Africa made one understand the absurd not as a peripheral mistake at the edge of a society, but at the central point of construction. So the absurd always, for me, is a species of realism rather than a species of joke or fun. And that’s why one can take the joke of The Nose very seriously.”

WILLIAM KENTRIDGE - WHAT WILL COME, The Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa, 10th November to 14th Decemver 2007, Exhibition Poster

WILLIAM KENTRIDGE – WHAT WILL COME, The Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa, 10th November to 14th December 2007, Exhibition Poster

WILLIAM KENTRIDGE - K20, 27 March - 31 May, 2004, Exhibition Poster

WILLIAM KENTRIDGE – K20, 27 March – 31 May, 2004, Exhibition Poster

Kentridge was a genius. Whether he was deconstructing three dimensional reality through mirrored cylinders in installations such as “What Will Come” at the Goodman gallery, or reflecting on identity and individual choices in a politically conflicted landscape as he did through his films at the K20 exhibit—at the heart of it was always the voice of an artist striving to inform, interrogate and possibly change the world.

The Shadow Play as Medium of Memory

Ipshita Sen announces the newly released book on Nalini Malini and William Kentridge’s art of shadow play

William Kentridge Nalini Malani: The Shadow Play as Medium of Memory by Andreas Huyssen

William Kentridge Nalini Malani: The Shadow Play as Medium of Memory by Andreas Huyssen

New York: “The Shadow Play as Medium of Memory”, is an enchanting book, featuring works by two prominent artists of our time; William Kentridge and Nalini Malini. It is an exquisite comparison of their art works incorporating the use of shadow play as a medium of memory. Emphasis is placed on two significant installation pieces created by the artists for dOCUMENTA (13) Exhibition in Wassel, Germany 2012. These works were considered to be epitomes of their artistic careers; William Kentridge’s “The Refusal of time” and Nalini Malini’s “In Search of Vanished Blood”.

In Search of Vanished Blood, Nalini Malani @ Documenta 12

In Search of Vanished Blood, Nalini Malani @ dOCUMENTA (13). Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/g_i_r_a_f/7690241934/sizes/h/in/photostream/

“In search of vanished blood” a colossal installation by Nalini Malini highlighted the prestigious 100-day exhibition. Being a refugee of the India partition, Nalini’s work explores the boundaries of gender and displacement, comprising of cultural imagery through mixed media installations. The installation involves light projecting onto painted acrylic cylinders that revolved, creating dramatic shadows on the wall. The imagery used on the cylinders was off Hindu Goddesses along side western icons creating an interesting juxtaposition between the two cultures. The installation had fantastic aesthetic dynamism stressing on the aspects of the social issues of gender, feminism, violence and religious fundamentalism.

William Kentridge’s “The Refusal of Time” was envisioned through the artist’s several encounters with composer Philip Miller and scientist Peter Galison. This video art piece explores the concept of different perspectives of time and the complexities associated with changing time. It combines drawing, music, dance, movies and concepts creating a dynamic theatrical performance, which brings Kentridge’s notion of questioning time on the pedestal.

The Refusal of Time by William Kentridge @ dOCUMENTA (13)

The Refusal of Time by William Kentridge @ dOCUMENTA (13). Image credit: http://documenta13blog.noz.de/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/890_0008_5505908_32040413.jpg

Both artists independently have works that share similar themes of traumatic pasts, partition, apartheid, expressing these aspects of their being in their own unique but aesthetically complex ways. They have been instrumental in creating a dialogue between modernism and the historical Avant-grade, which is appealing and encourages an audience to see things through the lens of a fresh new perspective.

The Shadow Play as Medium of Memory is definitely a must read!

Snapshots from the Škoda Art Prize 2012 Ceremony

Manjari Sihare shares some snapshots from the Škoda Prize 2012 Ceremony held in New Delhi recently

New Delhi: We recently blogged about the Škoda Art Prize 2012 Show at the National Gallery of Modern Art in New Delhi. This year, LN Tallur was selected winner of this coveted award. Here are some snapshots from the award ceremony, courtesy of the organizers of the Prize. This ceremony also saw the felicitation of Delhi based artist, Rohini Devasher, with the Art India Breakthrough Artist Award. Read this interview to learn more about Devasher.

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Art Night Thursday, Mumbai

Tarika Agarwal of Saffronart gallery-hops in Mumbai on the occasion of the latest edition of ‘Art Night Thursday’

Mumbai: It was quite an exciting experience walking around the Mumbai Art District at night for the first time as part of Art Night Thursday last week.

Started in London, the idea is that on the first Thursday of the month, participating galleries and museums stay open past 9 pm. It was an amazing way to get introduced to the great art scene in the vibrant city of Mumbai. It has managed to promote museums and art galleries as fun places to hang out in the evening.

The trail consisted of seven galleries. There was a vast variety of  works on display – tapestries, video art, sculptures, installations, oils, acrylics to name a few. I started my journey alone but somewhere along the way it became a nice little group of art lovers walking about the streets of Mumbai from one gallery to another. It was nice to see how college students, art students, the retired and collectors were in the same space enjoying, appreciating and discussing an artist’s work.

In this edition of Art Night Thursday, here is the list of a few of the artists being exhibited and the kinds of work they were showing –

Monika Correa, Homage to Kepes, White Warp
Image Credit- www.gallerychemould.com

In an exhibition of Tapestries at Chemould Prescott Road, Monika Correa has explored the underlying relationship between weaving and the diverse patterns and textures of nature. Read more.

Prakaash Chandwadkar, Untitled – 001, Acrylic on Lokta Paper
Image Credit- www.gallerybeyond.com

In a group show at Gallery Beyond, Prakaash Chandwadkar had showcased a few acrylics on Lokta Paper (wild crafted, handmade artisan paper indigenous to Nepal).  These works display the vistas of the Himalayan Ranges around Nepal where he treks.

At the Guild, Rakhi Peswani presented ‘Anatomy of Silence’. The artist believes that silence is an integral part of paintings, sculptures and objects. Art holds a mute relationship with the society it is created and survives in. She shows the human body in a handmade avatar which is close to displacement and demise. The relationship between a laborious work and a craftsman’s body is explored and seen vis-à-vis the situation of the handmade today.

William Kentridge

William Kentridge, Untitled, Indian Ink on pages from The Century Dictionary; An Encyclopedic Lexicon of the language.
Image Credit- www.volte.in

One of the best shows was the William Kentridge solo exhibition, ‘Poems I used to know’ at Volte, which combines large drawings done in Indian ink on multiple pages from books that have been put together, a film installation, a series of slip book films, sculptures and a large tapestry. Read a review of the show in the Mint by Girish Shahane.

Shine Shivan, Glimpse of Thirst (11), Fabric, jute, fiber, marbles, fiber glass, artificial hair, sequins and beads.
Image Credit- www.artinfo.com/

Shine Shivan’s ‘Glimpse of Thirst’ at Gallery Maskara exhibits a provocative body of work including a large group of hybrid, fantasy characters crafted from various non-typical materials and a video installation.

Nityan Unnikrishnan

Nityan Unnikrishnan, Untitled, Mixed Media on Paper
Image Credit- www.chatterjeeandlal.com

Chatterjee & Lall previewed Nityan Unnikrishnan’s solo show ‘While Everyone is Away’ during Art Night Thursday. This exhibition consists of fourteen paper-works and two sculptures, and is the first time the artist’s three-dimensional works have been shown. According to the exhibition note, “He derives from a variety of sources to build his works: memories, literature, the arts, Arcadia, the modern world, his present life. The individual works are open to a variety of interpretations; little niches and low voices offer up clues as the viewer navigates their densely worked surfaces.”

Risham Syed

Risham Syed, Untitled Lahore Series # 11, Acrylic on Board on Canvas
Image Credit- www.project88.in

Risham Syed’s first solo exhibition in India titled ‘Metropolyptical: A Tale of a City’ was on view at Project 88. The artist portrays modern day Lahore, a place she calls home, yet remains a complete stranger to, due to the construction and deconstruction which is a mystic version of post-modernity.

Imagine getting a chance to see different collections of great art for an evening every month. Four to five hours of one’s time spent in appreciating the creativity of the young and the established felt like no time at all! I consider this a MUST DO if you are visiting Mumbai or are in South Mumbai when the next editions of Art Night Thursday are taking place.

The Škoda Prize Show at National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi

Manjari Sihare shares some snapshots from the opening of The Škoda Prize show in New Delhi

New Delhi: On January 29, 2013, the opening of the Škoda Prize Show for 2012 was held at the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) in Delhi. The exhibition, curated by Girish Shahane (Director of Art –the Škoda Prize), is a selection of works by the longlisted artists or top 20 finalists for the Škoda  Prize 2012.

The Škoda  Prize for Indian Contemporary Art brings to public notice exciting trends in contemporary art, highlighting the output of established mid-career artists as well as new voices. It is backed by jurors of impeccable credentials, renowned patron institutions, a dedicated group of advisors, and a management team of proven capability. Nominees need to be below the age of 45, and should have had a solo show in the country over the last 12 months. The winner takes away the prestigious ‘The ŠKODA Prize Winner’ title and also receives prize money of INR 10,00,000. Runners-up are invited to participate in international residencies supported by Prohelvetia, the Swiss Arts Council.

Visited by thousands every year, The ŠKODA Prize Show (which takes place alongside the India Art Fair in New Delhi) showcases the country’s most promising contemporary artists. This year, LN Tallur was the selected winner of this coveted award selected by an esteemed panel of jurors including Geeta Kapur (eminent Indian art historian and critic), William Kentridge (South African artist of international acclaim), Sangita Jindal (Owner, Art India Magazine), Abhay Sardesai (Editor, Art India), and Girish Shahane (Director – Art of the Škoda Prize).

The preview on January 29 was inaugurated by Dr. Karan Singh, President, Indian Council for Cultural Relations in the presence of Shri Ravindra Singh, Special Secretary, Ministry of Culture, Government of India, Mr. Sudhir Rao, Managing Director, Škoda  Auto India and Mr. Martin Da Costa, CEO, 70 EMG, the principal sponsor of this initiative.

Speaking on the occasion, Prof. Rajeev Lochan (Director of the NGMA, New Delhi) said “I believe that The Škoda  Prize truly presents and supports the art of the “New Generation”. These are essentially artists who have emerged in the 1990s in India presenting their own practice by portraying the reality that they have experienced and depicting strongly their concerns as individuals. Art can no longer be compartmentalized into painting, sculpture, print making etc. Art is now breaking all previously laid out barriers and has diversified into a multitude of media such as installation art, video art, performance art, conceptual art and the new buzz of media art. These too have evolved and developed over a period of time. The artists have chosen to break away from the mould of the existing art practices and have given birth to new approaches and genres in art previously not experienced and contrary to the popular belief contributing greatly to the value and the unconventional mode. I am truly delighted that the National Gallery of Modern Art. New Delhi, Ministry of Culture, Government of India is presenting the Škoda  Prize Show. I am equally pleased that The Škoda  Prize has established itself as a prestigious award for visual arts and it has evolved as a much awaited contemporary art exhibition in India.”

The Škoda Prize show will be open to the public till 28 February 2013.

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All images are courtesy the organizers of the Škoda Prize.

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