William Joseph Kentridge is possibly South Africa's most important living artist. He works in a large variety of media; charcoal, ink, wash, pastel, pencil, oil and in various graphic media, occasionally sculpting as well.
Between 1976 and 1978 he studied at the Johannesburg Art Foundation, under Bill Ainslie. In 1976 he gained a BA in Political/African Studies from the University of the Witwatersrand and in 1981-82 studied Theatre at Ecole Jacque Lecoq in Paris. Since 1976 he has been a co-founder, member, actor, director, stage and poster designer for the Junction Avenue Theatre Company and for the Market Theatre (renowned as South Africa's "Theatre of the Struggle") in Johannesburg. In 1980-82 he taught graphics at the Johannesburg Art Foundation. In 1980 he wrote and directed 'Dikhitsheneng' for Junction Avenue and has since been involved in several other drama productions the latest of which was producing Mozart's opera, The Magic Flute. It premiered in Brussels at the Theatre Royal de la Monnaie in April 2005 and went on to venues in France, Italy, Israel and the United States before giving final performances in South Africa in the Spring of 2007.
He has exhibited an enormous number of times, solo and in groups, all over the world including The Drawing Centre in New York, The Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg, The Metropolitan Museum in New York, the Musée d'art Contemporain in Montreal, The Johannesburg Art Gallery, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. The Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art, the Chicago Art Institute, and the Tate Modern in London.
He has also won many awards both South African and international. He received the Standard bank Young Artist Award in 1987, and in 1985, the Cape Triennial Merit Award. In 1982 he was the joint winner of the Red Ribbon Award in New York for the film 'Howl at the Moon' and in 1984 was the joint winner of the Olive Shreiner Award for the play 'Randlords & Rotgut'. He has also received the Jesse L Rosenberger Medal from the University of Chicago, the Woyzeck on the Highveld awards for production, set design and direction in 1982, The Market Theatre Award for New Vision exhibition, 1986, the AA vita Award at Cassirer fine Art in1986, the Loerie memo in 1994, the Carnegie Medal in 2004, the Goslar Kaiserring in 2004, and an Honorary Doctor of Literature from the University of the Witwatersrand in 2004.
Text - David Krut