From the Studio of William Kentridge – CRRI

February 4 – May 16, 2021

From the Studio of William Kentridge is a documentary exhibition devoted to the South African artist’s work in his studio and to his private archive. The exhibition is organized by the CRRI – Castello di Rivoli Research Institute and elaborates on the practice of William Kentridge (1955, Johannesburg), amongst the most important artists worldwide working in the legacy of espressionist art, integrating solo shows and publications that the Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea has produced and dedicated to Kentridge over the years (including the retrospective with international tour William Kentridge, 2004, and William Kentridge. Respirare, currently at the Chiesa di San Domenico, Alba).

Kentridge’s work has its roots in Johannesburg, South Africa, where he was born in 1955 and where he still lives and creates most of his artworks. In 1976, he graduated in Politics and African Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand. In the nineties he achieved international recognition thanks to his animated short films and to the charcoal drawings that generate them. Also active in the field of theater, at first as a set designer and actor and later as a director, since 1992 he has collaborated with the Handspring Puppet Company creating multimedia works in which he uses puppets, actors and animation.

In his artworks Kentridge revises the bloody tensions that characterized the apartheid years in South Africa and the contradictions that subsequently marked the path of reconciliation, as well as gives voice to the ambiguity and complexity of the conflicts emerging in contemporary society at the time of digital globalization. Deeply connected to post- colonial practices and sensitivities, Kentridge does not pursue a predefined project but proposes a vision of life, society and art understood as a process of continuous change. The universe of shadows that he materializes implies an indirect view of the world. Instead of seeking absolute truth in all circumstances, the artist suggests the possibility of using a mobile and oblique gaze, out of the center.

Kentridge’s studio can be interpreted as a space-time of intimate and collaborative synthesis of external experiences, a place in which the elegiac and at the same time dramatic images characterizing his research take shape, then change and resume shape. In the studio, the sources and references are rigorously analyzed, to then be reworked and gradually transformed by the artist.

This exhibition brings together the everyday tools of Kentridge’s work, revealed for the first time and shared with the public, like a box with chalks, charcoals and strips of fabric used to make drawings. There is also a selection of photographs that help to fine-tune the poses, attitudes and actions of his characters or the backgrounds of the places where his stories are set, along with sketches, notes and collages later taken up in animated films. The artist’s process of constant transformation materializes through actions of erasing, cutting and scraping. In order to make this process tangible, the exhibition also highlights the residual materials that accumulate during Kentridge daily work in the studio.

Curated by Andrea Viliani with the curatorial assistance of Giulia De Giorgi. With thanks to the William Kentridge Studio, Johannesburg for their precious and friendly collaboration.

Created within the Museum as an extension of its Library, CRRI is a department devoted to research, and to gathering and valorizing archival material belonging to artists, curators, critics, gallerists, collectors and art foundations, between the sixties and today.

CRRI’s activities are supported by the Regione Piemonte and by Compagnia di San Paolo.