William Kentridge: Procession I & II

 Procession I, 2023.  Paper size: 60.8 cm x 79.1 cm. Image size: 45.6 cm x 65.1 cm.  Direct gravure with drypoint on Gampi White (chine collé)  on Hahnemuhle Natural 300gsm.  Edition size: 20 
Procession II, 2023. Paper size: 60.8 cm x 79.1 cm.  Image size: 45.6 cm x 65.1 cm.   Direct gravure with drypoint and aquatint on Gampi White (chine collé) with handpainting on Hahnemuhle Natural backing on Hahnemuhle Natural 300gsm. Edition size: 20 

Contemporary art converges with printmaking in its interplay between artist, technique, and collaboration. This often yields remarkable works that illuminate the magic of creative collaboration. William Kentridge’s Procession I and Procession II stand as prime examples of such endeavors.  

Procession I was initiated at the University of California’s Printmaking Department (Berkeley) in March 2023. Originally executed as single-layered drawings on acetate film. The sketch demonstrated Kentridge’s deft hand, rendering the central figures using lithography pencils and ink wash. 

The process journeyed on from its spontaneous ‘sketchy’ conception, into the meticulous plate development of the photogravure process. This unfolded in May 2023 under the collaborative efforts of Jillian Ross, Steven Dixon and Luke Johnson at the University of Alberta, Canada. The photogravure plate underwent diligent refinement to capture the nuanced tones and essence of Kentridge’s original drawings. 

Jillian Ross working in the David Krut Workshop (Maboneng, Johannesburg).
Jillian Ross, Kim-Lee Loggenberg-Tim and Sarah Judge reviewing the original acetate sketch and a proof of the print.

The pivotal phase of proofing and editioning was conducted in June 2023 at the David Krut Workshop (DKW) in Johannesburg. During this phase, Kentridge revisited the initial plate by adding frenetic drawn marks using the dry point technique. Subsequently, Procession II began to take shape as a second plate was crafted to complement its predecessor, facilitated by the skilled hands of master printer Jillian Ross and DKW printers Kim-Lee Loggenberg-Tim and Sarah Judge. 

Regarding print editioning, Sarah Judge assumed the mantle for Procession I, while both Sarah Judge and Kim-Lee Loggenberg-Tim collaborated in bringing Procession II to life. The gravure image developed on the copper plate is printed on to a thin, silky Japanese paper; Gampi. This was then cut to size and adhered to a backing sheet of a thicker paper, Hahnemuhle. This is achieved through the process of Chine-collé . The Chine-collé technique was a pivotal part in the making of this print as the nature of thinner papers such as Gampi allow for much finer details to be picked up which is essentially is transferring the mark-making of the original sketch. Procession II followed this editioning process but differs in the addition of gentle hand painted Sommelier ink washes seen on the backing paper. 

The copper plate being inked up before printing.
Sarah Judge revealing a print hot off the press.
The Chine Collé prints on Gampi, glued with Methyll cellulose and dried on Perspex sheets.
William Kentridge, Kim-Lee Loggenberg-Tim and Sarah Judge discussing the proofing stages.
Sarah Judge in action!
Sarah Judge and Jesse Shepstone adhered the Chine Collé sheet to the Perspex.
Sarah Judge examining the adhered Chine Collé.
The skilled eyes of our printmakers reviewing each and every detail.

The figures in these prints embody a continuum of Kentridge’s seven preceding sculptural works relating the Procession prints to various projects such as; The Great YES, The Great NO, Oh To Believe In Another World and drawings from the series Chiesa di San Francesco Saverio, Palermo Cash Book Drawings (V-VIII).  

The referenced four figures in Kentridge's studio.

In Procession I and II, the motif of the ‘troupe’ symbolises the transient nature of meaning, time and humanness. The dynamic composition and energetic mark-making convey a sense of movement as the figures march across the page amidst a blend of abstraction and everyday items. The addition of Procession II extends their journey into new terrain, distinguished by harsher marks and additional aquatint forming hills and valleys on the horizon.  

Amidst the cacophony of Kentridge’s marks and meanings, a sense of order and purpose will always emerge. The spontaneity and freedom in the conception of these plates allowed the artist to digest and express on-going ideas and related projects in a new light. Procession I & II, in this sense, can be seen as a record of the ‘thinking through making’ that Kentridge’s prolific oeuvre can be defined by.  

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