Evocative videos, graphic tapestries, charcoal drawings, woodcut prints, sculptures and immersive sound installations combine in the largest-ever show by South African artist William Kentridge to explore compelling themes including South Africa’s apartheid history and the participation of Africans in World War I.
Surveying the work of Kentridge’s prolific 43-year career in many mediums, the show brims over at two locations, The Zeitz Museum of Contemporary African Art at Cape Town’s waterfront and the Norval Foundation in the Steenburg vineyards nearby.
“Why Should I Hesitate: Four Decades of Art Making 1975-2019,” opening Sunday and running through March, draws its title from the words of an African conscripted to fight in the First World War, who was faced with a difficult choice: risk death in the war or refuse to serve and face persecution by the colonial regime.
Kentridge, the son of anti-apartheid lawyer Sydney Kentridge, who represented Nelson Mandela, told The Associated Press that social and political commentary have inspired his work.
“I think this comes from living in South Africa, where even if you think you are doing personal work, divorced from politics, you suddenly find that the outside world has come into the studio and shapes and infects and reflects the work, said Kentridge. “So without thinking of myself as a political artist there is a lot of politics that comes into my work.”
The show starts with Kentridge’s early charcoal drawings from the 1970s and moves to his etchings, large graphics and videos, evoking the tensions of South Africa’s violent struggle against apartheid, the system of racial discrimination that ended in 1994.
Wide-screen video and sound installations take the viewer through dream-like journeys in history and provoke questions about the present and the future.
Kentridge said that working to mount such an expansive show of his work, including 50% of his video installations and 60% of his sculptures, made him think…