New Editions by William Kentridge | 1975 Linocut Impressions & Triumphs and Laments Woodcut Text Pieces 2019

In the 27 years since their meeting in 1992, Kentridge has collaborated with David Krut on numerous print editions, which have brought together Master Printers at print workshops in various countries. Upon reflection on Kentridge’s substantial contribution to printmaking, the David Krut Workshop has revisited two linoleum plates that Kentridge carved in 1975, during his university years, creating current impressions in limited editions of images that encourage a contemplation of the historical arc of Kentridge’s printmaking career.

The David Krut Workshop has revisited two linoleum plates from 1975, some of the first that Kentridge carved after high school, when the extent of the facilities available to him was limited to “lino, cartridge paper and the back of a spoon”. Prior to 2010, they were some of the only examples of linocut work by the artist. Kentridge returned to the medium with great gusto in 2010, beginning with a series of small works depicting various images relating to projects he was working on at the time. This series included his first abstract work, titled Splash, and paved the way for the major linocut series, Universal Archive, which was created in collaboration with the David Krut Workshop over a number of years, beginning in 2011 The linocut plates from 1975 have been in storage at the DKW workshop for some time. Fortunately linoleum sheets do not degenerate over time, as is the case with copper plates. Perhaps as a tribute to the longevity of lino plates, to the linocut as a truly democratic medium of political significance in South African art history, and very much as an appreciation of long-term collaborations, Kentridge suggested that the workshop edition each of the plates.

Pioneer Corps, imp.2019*Linocut printed on Thai Mulberry
Edition of 10. Paper size: 32 x 38 cm

Pioneer Corps was created by Kentridge as a cover page for an essay he was required to write on African History. The work was originally titled The British South Africa Company Expedition to Matabeleland, and has subsequently been renamed Pioneer Corps. The image depicts Cecil John Rhodes and his team of associates who, in the late 1800s, planned the crossing of the Limpopo River into Matabeleland in the region of present-day Zimbabwe, with a view to exercising the mining rights they had obtained from the Ndebele King Lobengula some years earlier. 

Muizenberg 1933, imp.2019* Linocut printed on Thai Mulberry
Edition of 10. Paper size: 39 x 44,5 cm

In Muizenberg 1933, the man in the deck chair dressed in a three-piece suit is based on a photograph of Morris Kentridge, the artist’s paternal grandfather, while on holiday in 1933 in Muizenberg, just outside of Cape Town. One of Kentridge’s most famous characters, Soho Eckstein, derived his outfit from this same photograph. The reversal of the numbers “33” in the image is an endearing indication of just how early in Kentridge’s career this print was made – a time while a great printmaker of our time was in the process of mastering the art of carving in mirror-image.

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“Every triumph has brought a lament in its wake.”

In 2016 Kentridge made a 500m-long frieze on the banks of the Tiber River in Rome, referring to the simultaneously glorious and reprehensible histories from Roman and Italian history. As Kentridge explains, “The consideration of histories, both honourable and shameful, is not foreign to any country.” The images on the frieze range from the founding of Rome 2000 years ago, to the recent plight of migrants trying to reach Italy across the Mediteranean. Created using a technique called reverse graffiti, which entails washing the built-up dirt and bacteria from the wall around a stencilled image, the frieze in Rome will fade over the next few years and disappear as pollution returns, a natural erasure as time passes. The only trace of the artwork will be the prints, the tapestries and other translations of the work that have been created. Triumphs and Laments, therefore, is also about collaborations.

Upon reflection on the artist’s passion and great skill in printmaking and as a tribute to the 27 years in which David Krut has been collaborating with William Kentridge, two new woodcuts by Kentridge have been created by the David Krut Workshop at Arts on Main. Leaning on Air and God’s Opinion is Unknown are impressions from woodblocks that form part of Refugees, a large-scale diptych being the sixth and final work of the Triumphs and Laments Woodcut Series.

Refugees (1 God’s Opinion is Unknown; 2 Leaning on Air), 2019. Edition of 12. 188 x 350 cm. Woodcut collage. Final work comprised of 77 individual sheets adhered by 136 aluminum pinsRelief printed from 26 woodblocks an Somerset Velvet Soft White 300gsm

The Refugees diptych is influenced by a 2012 newspaper photograph of migrants from Rwanda. The focus has been placed on the large loads that they carry; ‘they’ could be seen in any number of media images and could represent migrants from any number of countries.

Leaning on Air, 2019. Woodcut on KitaKata mounted to backing sheet of Arches cover white 300 gsm. Edition of 18. Image size: 21.7 x 69.5 cm. Paper size: 29.5 x 76.5 cm.
God’s Opinion is Unknown, 2019. Woodcut on KitaKata mounted to backing sheet of Arches Cover White 300 gsm.
Edition of 18. Image size: 29.5 x 41.5 cm. Paper size: 39.8 x 51.5 cm.

Leaning on Air and God’s Opinion is Unknown are made using individual wood blocks from Refugees, which is made up of a total of 26 blocks. The two blocks are visible in the top left of the multiple-figure image, and the bottom right of the single-figure image of the diptych. 

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