Art against apartheid
South African artist William Kentridge, who has wowed people across the globe with his prints, drawings and animated films for years, is in Mumbai on his second visit to India, this time to showcase a collection of his works that will commence today
William Kentridge is perhaps best known for his animated films and drawings that explore the emotional distress in South Africa caused by apartheid and racial reconciliation. His choice of medium — dark charcoal drawings, occasional colour and his style of depiction, often make his artwork more distressing than the already apparent topic. The artist is now set to present his work from over the years to art aficionados in India. Excerpts from the interview:
On your second visit to India, how does it feel and what finally convinced you to come down?
For some time, I have wanted to do a project in India. In the last couple of years, I began working with Kolkata publisher, Seagull Books, and for that project, visited India a year or so ago. This led to other conversations and connections. I know very little about India’s art world. I am delighted to have an exhibition in Mumbai and look forward to discovering more. Tushar Jiwarajka is doing some commendable work for the Indian art scene. For all you know, he will get me back to India soon.
What’s the main idea behind this exhibition?
The Mumbai exhibition includes work from different projects – I Am Not Me, The Horse Is Not Mine, an installation of eight film fragments made in 2008 whilst working towards a production of Shostakovich’s opera — The Nose — to a very recent tapestry that was produced from the poster made for the same production at the Metropolitan Opera in 2010. One recurring theme seems to be fragmentation and coherence — the eight-film fragments, two large drawings pieced together from multiple pages, a triptych of flipbook films and two small bronze figures which fragment and cohere in form as the viewer’s point of view shifts.
What is your inspiration behind these works?
There are many, which are references for different pieces of work – Beckmann, Francis Bacon, Rembrandt, Chardin, Picasso, Muybridge and many others. My work is also shaped by cross-contamination between different mediums of drawing, printmaking, animation, theatre and opera.
You have explored various mediums of art in your career span, which medium remains your favourite?
All my work is rooted in drawing, as a primary medium. Charcoal paintings are a personal favourite.
Your future plans?
To continue drawing, which remains my quintessential passion.
Till March 20
At 2/19, Kamal Mansions, above White Pearl Hotel, near Radio Club, Colaba.