One cannot help but respect the immense capability of an artist who works in such a variety of mediums. Whether it is his films, performance art, drawings, sculptures, photogravures, or embroidery that resonates most strongly with viewers. William Kentridge’s work definitely provides a unique historical experience. He’s known for his animated film, he dabbles in sculpture and he is internationally recognized for his performance art. Some people even say that he is the master of mediums because he makes such a variety of art pieces. Kentridge also studied theatre, but realized he was not a good actor and settled with being an artist instead. His animated films, or ‘drawings for projection’, explore personal and social conflicts in the context of both apartheid and post-apartheid landscapes, using mainly pastel and charcoal drawings on paper, which he changes and sets in motion by rubbing out and drawing over things.
Kentridge’s main medium is charcoal. He draws an image, photographs it, erases, and redraws it many times to create evocative video animations that at once tell stories and convey the narrative of the act of drawing. He has also done projects where he shifts pieces of construction paper that are already in a shape of a horse. He then animates it by slightly moving each little piece of paper frame by frame to make the horse trot over time. We saw a small documentary on William Kentridge in class, which really inspired me to try some of his techniques.
To respond to the research I have done for William Kentridge, I have to create an artwork that is in some way inspired by him. The work does not necessarily have to be the exact copy of the artist’s work or made by the same mediums that the artist has used. It is still challenging for me to decide exactly what I want to create since Kentridge has done a variety of things, but I really do like his charcoal animations and construction paper cut-out animations. I was thinking of maybe combining the two together for my piece. That way, it will be a little more interesting with a mash-up of his techniques. For my studio art response, I could have the background drawn from charcoal and for the foreground, I would have a cut-out of a wolf instead of Kentridge’s horse. I am planning to have a shifting background as the wolf is running through it. It is probably going to be a little difficult and time consuming since this will be done frame by frame, but I think it is a good way to capture the element of time that is executed in William Kentridge’s work. Unlike the other projects I have done, this one will not have brainstorm sketches for how it is going to be animated. This way I will be able to experience the artist’s methods of just “winging” it. None of his animations were planned or scripted out, which I find so impressive. His work still has conceptual meaning even though he makes things on the fly. I think this will be a challenging project for me, but it will be fun to try and it is something I have never done before. If it does not work out, I will probably draw some sort of significant event that occurred in our history with charcoal and blue pastel, which are the main mediums for William Kentridge’s animation and the event in history would represent his way of showing South African history.