‘William Kentridge: Five Themes’ at the ACMI

Thursday 8th March to Sunday 27th May, ACMI at Federation Square, Melbourne

William Kentridge: Five Themes opens today at ACMI, Federation Square. The exhibition was originally curated by Mark Rosenthal for the Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Rosenthal has travelled to Melbourne, with the artist William Kentridge, to oversee the installation of the exhibition in ACMI’s expansive underground exhibition space. Since 2009 the exhibition has been touring cities around the world including Johannesburg, New York, Paris, Vienna, Jerusalem and Moscow. Kentridge is known for his stop motion films of charcoal drawings and the exhibition includes five rooms screening short animations, as well as charcoal drawings, theatre models, sculptures and books. Speaking at the launch Kentridge said that the works in the exhibition should be seen as ‘the residue of his ideas and experiments in art – the things allowed out of the studio’. He also said that his works do not necessarily begin with any of the clarity of meaning we might perceive to be attached to them in the current exhibition. His work shifts from being melancholy, to funny, to serious and political, and to purely visually engaging.

The exhibition expores five themes that William Kentridge has engaged with over his career. He was born in South Africa in 1955 and continues to work from his home town of Johannesburg. The first two groups of film and drawings – ‘Occasional and Residual Hope: Ubu and the Procession’ and ‘Thick Time: Soho and Felix’ –  tackle themes related to the social and political environment of South Africa, such as colonial oppression, apartheid, reconciliation and the transient nature of individual and shared memory. The third theme centres around Kentridge’s, often playful, meditation on his own role as artist and the creative process. In ‘Parcours d’Atelier: Artists in the Studio’, a tribute to French film director George Méliès, nine films run concurrently on four walls and we see Kentridge pacing his studio as books fly into his hands, or piecing together a destroyed self portrait, which then comes to life and wanders off the screen. The final two themes revolve around Kentridge’s creation of animation and sets for operatic productions of Mozart’s The Magic Flute and Shostakovich’s The Nose.

You can read a full review of Kentridge’s show as it was seen by our Paris Correspondent Victus Hobday in 2010 at the Jeu de Paume gallery.

There is also a a range public programs running alongside the exhibition, more detail here.

See the Exhibition Website for more information and for ticket sales.