William Kentridge’s “Leaning on Air”

Image: William Kentridge, Leaning on Air, 2019, Woodcut on Kitakata paper, 11.6 x 30.1 inches.

William Kentridge’s 2019 woodcut Leaning on Air was editioned to celebrate the completion of the four year collaboration on the monumental Triumphs and Laments Woodcuts Series, and also in recognition of the 27 years in which William Kentridge has been collaborating with David Krut and the workshop teams. Leaning on Air is printed from a single woodblock from the multi-block woodcut Refugees, the final large-scale work in the series. Leaning on Air emphasizes the text found within the larger work and highlights the natural beauty found in the wood grain and carved lines. 

“The text appearing at the top of the right-hand portion of the diptych – “Leaning on air” – finds its origins in poetry, from a time in which Kentridge was perusing various volumes of international poetry, searching for lines that could be relevant in a libretto for another project. As often happens in Kentridge’s work, the line was stored somewhere in his consciousness, emerging later out of masses of information and associations that come into play when the time is just right and the work calls for something particular. Unlike the other text in this work the initial source, in exactitude, is unclear, but rather than presenting a barrier to understanding, this obscurity opens the phrase up to interpretation, making room for the viewer’s empathy in the context of the image.” – Jacqueline Flint, 2020

Leaning on Air uses two overlapping sheets of paper, which are then attached to a sturdy backing sheet using a similar hinging technique to the one employed for the Universal Archive series of linocuts. [The print has] been made using Kitakata, a very fine gampi paper from the Philippines, the deckle edges of which are left intact and printed over. The deckles are visible at the bottom of each print, emphasizing the way in which the works float on top the backing sheet, having been hinged only at the top.” – Jacqueline Flint, 2020 

Leaning on Air was created by Kentridge in collaboration with Master Printer Jillian Ross and her team at David Krut Workshop at Arts On Main, Johannesburg.

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