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Internationally-acclaimed South African artist William Kentridge's first show in India carries imprints of his homeland's history.
He is a painter, weaver, sculptor and filmmaker, who has been associated with theatre and opera, first as an actor and later as a director and designer. But a closer glimpse at William Kentridge's life might throw up possibilities of how his work might be interconnected, within mediums and themes, leading to one overarching themeó the apartheid-era South Africa, the world the artist grew up in and knows intimately.
"One has to know the basics of South Africa's sociopolitical condition and history to grasp my work fully," says Kentridge, whose work over the years and across the world have made him one of the significant artists of this generation. From Louvre, Paris, to the Museum of Modern Art, New York, his art has been shown in some of the world's most prestigious museums.
An assemblage of Kentridge's work ó film installation, drawings, sculptures, prints, tapestries and flip-book films ó will be on display at Mumbai's Volte Gallery. The exhibition titled "The Poems I Used to Know" will open on February 6 and is on till March 20. The most celebrated of these is the audio-visual installation I am not Me, the Horse is not Mine, an animation film done in Kentridge's unique way of photographing successive hand-drawn charcoal images.
"I draw them always on the same sheet of paper, contrary to the traditional animation technique in which each movement is drawn on a separate sheet. The images are constructed by filming a drawing, making erasures and changes and filming it again," he explains what has become the definitive feature of his work. As a result, instead of the stark white backgrounds of successive sheets of fresh paper, the traces add up to create their own unclear, grey backdrops dwelling in a bit of both black and white.