Upon finishing his degree in Politics and African Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, William Kentridge (Johannesburg, 1955) moved to Paris for a year to study theatre and mime. He continued working in theatre and the film industry after returning to South Africa in 1982, yet it was the visual arts which opened the world’s eyes to his output in the early nineties, particularly after his participation at the first Johannesburg Biennial (1995). From this juncture, the artist has continued to hone his stage and visual art work in parallel and side by side: both languages feed into and complement each other, overlapping to such an extent that one cannot be understood without the other.
William Kentridge. Enough and more than enough focuses on his stage work, including theatre, opera and performance, and takes this perspective to approach his sculptural projects. The cornerstone of the show is cemented by Woyzeck on the Highveld (1992), Faustus in Africa! (1995) and Ubu and the Truth Commission (1997), and the operas Il ritorno d’Ulisse (The Return of Ulysses, 1998), The Nose (2010), Lulu (2015) and Wozzeck (2017). The selection constitutes an opportunity to put in place a transversal survey which brings into focus certain constants throughout Kentridge’s work — stories with one leading character interweaving different situations and engendering more complex realities; dramas where the absurd often becomes an ally to effectively strip back and straighten out specific circumstances and contexts. The characters of Woyzeck, Ubu, Lulu, Ulysses, Faustus, and even the Nose, are either victims or tormentors of restrictive structures which punctuate, in the public and private sphere, the blight of tyranny, authoritarianism, maliciousness and corruption.
The importance placed on the creative process is another key component in Kentridge’s output — during the formulation of the foregoing pieces, drawings, prints and films are intertwined to mark the point of departure, and are either produced from them or produced simultaneously and as an accompaniment. Therefore, the exhibition compiles a broad selection of materials and mediums which pay heed to the synergies between the artist’s visual art and stage work, in addition to the different focal points and formalisations set out in each project.