The largest exhibition to be held in Africa in over a decade by internationally acclaimed artist William Kentridge is set to open in Cape Town in August. The major exhibition of his work will be hosted simultaneously in two parts by the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA) and Norval Foundation, opening 24 August and running through to March 2020.
Local art enthusiasts and international visitors to Cape Town – a fast-growing cultural capital – will gain access to many different works, executed over decades, by William Kentridge in two of the city’s leading art institutions at the same time, with the artist’s Why Should I Hesitate: Putting Drawings To Work on display at Zeitz MOCAA and Why Should I Hesitate: Sculpture on view at Norval Foundation.
Why Should I Hesitate: Putting Drawings To Work, will be staged at Zeitz MOCAA and will offer a wide survey of Kentridge’s work, including early works, as well as newer pieces on view for the first time in South Africa. It will cover over 40 years of artistic production (1976 – 2019) in drawing, stop-frame animation, video, prints, sculpture, tapestry, and large-scale installation. The title references Kentridge’s primary practice of drawing, and how this core activity informs and enables his studio practice. It also references the impact of individual action on history and the reverse – how history shapes the contemporary and the future – and works as a commentary on various shifting hegemonies of power politics, economies, language and the authority to narrate history.
“This large scale survey exhibition prompts us to consider how various artistic media, initiated from two-dimensional works on paper, can be seeds through which Kentridge has developed his concerns for history, particularly in relation to his home continent, Africa, and its historical ties further afield. By mapping these histories we consider the artist’s relationship to the world and ideas of self-actualisation, and the illusions of power and progress through a violent history. Kentridge’s work, while ambiguous, does not hide from its inherent traumatic history. It is an honour for me to work with one of the living masters of our time,” says Azu Nwagbogu, curator of the exhibition at Zeitz MOCAA.
“As I begin my tenure, it is an intense joy to host an unprecedented survey show of one of the great masters of contemporary visual political poetry,” says Koyo Kouoh, Executive Director and Chief Curator at Zeitz MOCAA.
Why Should I Hesitate: Sculpture, will be on view at Norval Foundation and will present three-dimensional work of William Kentridge from the past 19 years. This will be the first exhibition internationally to address Kentridge’s output as a sculptor. Covering several bodies of work, and testifying to his longstanding and spontaneous improvisation when handling three-dimensional form, Why Should I Hesitate: Sculpture sees the origins of these works in props from his operas and images from his animations stepping off the stage and out of the screen, confronting us directly at ground level. Why Should I Hesitate: Sculpture will also premiere new works commissioned for the occasion of this special exhibition.
“Norval Foundation is presenting, for the first time, an exhibition focused solely on William Kentridge’s sculptural practice, working in conjunction with the artist and his studio. Kentridge’s sculptures embrace a spontaneous approach and have recently evolved towards the massive and the monumental. Simultaneously, and in tension to the monumental aspects of his practice, he is revealed to be a choreographer as much as a sculptor,” says Karel Nel, Senior Advising Curator at Norval Foundation.
“Norval Foundation is proud to be hosting Why Should I Hesitate: Sculpture. A key aspect of the Foundation is our commitment to exhibiting the sculptural and installation-based practices of a variety of artists, which is facilitated by our purpose-designed building. In particular, we invite artists and curators to respond to gallery eight, our largest gallery, with William Kentridge’s exhibition exemplifying this. The gallery has reinforced floors to support works that weigh as much as eight tons, and reach as high as nine metres. The monumental size of this gallery sits in an ideal contrast to the anti-monumental, spontaneous and theatrical sculptures that form part of this exhibition,” says Elana Brundyn, CEO, Norval Foundation.
Both exhibitions will include major works from Kentridge’s extensive oeuvre and will be accompanied by two new publications, conceived in collaboration between Zeitz MOCAA, Norval Foundation and the artist. The exhibitions will be accompanied by a series of talks and performances with the artist, and leading voices in the cultural sector.
A series of member events and public programmes will be held across both venues over the opening weekend, Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 August 2019.
Exhibition title: Why Should I Hesitate: Putting Drawings To Work
Venue: Level 3 Galleries and throughout, Zeitz MOCAA; Silo District, V&A Waterfront
Run dates: 25 August 2019 – 23 March 2020
Exhibition curators: Azu Nwagbogu, assisted by Tammy Langtry
Exhibition title: Why Should I Hesitate: Sculpture
Venue: Atrium and Galleries 2-8, Norval Foundation, 4 Steenberg Road, Tokai
Run dates: 24 August 2019 – 23 March 2020
Exhibition curators: Karel Nel, Owen Martin, Talia Naicker, Vicky Lekone