William Kentridge

Held at Australian Galleries Melbourne, in association with Annandale Galleries, a new exhibition of William Kentridge's work looks beyond the artist's iconicity to the collaborations and inter-media explorations which underpin his practice.

Cartography, topography, even choreography: so much of what William Kentridge’s work does is graph. Thinking about his work like this, with an emphasis on the kinds of knowledge and the kind of story made possible through different modes of writing, also calls attention to the hand that does all this sense-making. Printed matter, books, and the process of hand-drawing are of course all key interests of Kentridge’s work, especially the animations which have, by now, become totally iconic both within and beyond the specialist realm of the “art world.” Another preoccupation, too, is the figure of the artist-writer, insofar as Kentridge has often taken up that kind of auto-fictive way of telling history which has swept the literary world so thoroughly over the course of this century so far. This exhibition of Kentridge’s work, held at Australian Galleries Melbourne in association with Annandale Galleries, however, draws attention to Kentridge not as a whole and genius hand, but as one connecting tendon in a creative corps. 

Tapestry, drawing, etching, bronze, film has, as you might expect, an emphasis on tapestries, which form the central focus of the show. These are always attributed to both Kentridge and Marguerite Stephens, with whom Kentridge has been collaborating since 2001. In an account of Kentridge and Stephens’s process written for this show, Annandale Galleries Director Bill Gregory illustrates the place where Kentridge’s work ends and Stephens’s begins: “Their process involves working from drawings or maquette form by Kentridge which are then woven in wool mohair weft, polyester warp and slit edging.” It’s also important to note, though, that this is not a factory-line arrangement where labour is firmly and fiercely divided; rather, the process is more dialogical, and Kentridge’s imagery is often inspired by the possibilities of the medium as they’re played out in Stephens’s studio. Kentridge collaborates in other media as well: on prints with David Krut, and in his design work for the stage with whole hosts of artists, musicians, and performers. As much as his work is deeply personal, then, it is also often the work of many, which this show wonderfully captures.

Like the warp and weft strands in the tapestries, the myriad frames in his intricate animated films, or the reams and reams of paper that his drawings are on and about, Kentridge’s body of work is dense, multiform, and endlessly variable. That this exhibition’s title is a list of forms is, then, totally apposite: what better than a list to indicate a movement (of the hand, of the story, and of a vision) on and on, multiplying, without any limit, perhaps, but time? Occupying both of the Derby Street spaces at Australian Galleries, Melbourne, this exhibition captures, intimately and expansively, the spirit of one of the most prolific artists working across the world today.

Tapestry, drawing, etching, bronze, film
5 – 23 July, 2022
Australian Galleries, Melbourne, in association with Annandale Galleries

Latest  /  Most Viewed  /  Related