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"William Kentridge: First American Retrospective"
2002-07-21 until 2002-11-06
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Los Angeles, CA, USA

The first American retrospective of this internationally acclaimed artist from South Africa includes eleven animated films, more than 60 drawings, two sculptural installations, and video presentations of theater and opera productions designed and scripted by Kentridge. Known for expressing the complex political and historical realities of his homeland, Kentridge’s poetic and haunting work transcends the problems of South Africa to address the human condition in general.

Kentridge’s short animations are an ongoing narrative featuring the pin-stripe-suited, factory owner Soho Eckstein, whose guilt-laden memory characterizes one aspect of contemporary South Africa. His alter ego, Felix Teitlebaum, who competes for the attention of Soho’s wife, is an equally captivating character; always nude and preoccupied, he lies in pools of water or sits in a barren landscape listening to megaphones.

Despite Felix’s dreaminess, he is closely tied to both the artist and his South African context. Derived from the characters Francis Goodchild and Tom Idle in William Hogarth’s 1747 novel Industry and Idleness, Felix and Soho navigate a hypnotic vortex of personal and civil strife, social inequity, and industrial pillage. Images of tenderness alternate with violence and fantasy as Soho and Felix explore the interrelation of identity, memory, guilt, and forgiveness against the backdrop of a decimated landscape.

IMAGE:
Eye-to-Eye
Drawing for the film Felix in Exile, 1994
  Charcoal, pastel, and gouache on paper 
47 1/4 x 59 1/16 in. (120 x 150 cm) 
Collection of Kunsthalle Bremen, Germany


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