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South African artist William Kentridge exhibits at the Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest
A visitor looks at the video installation titled 'I am not me, the horse is not mine' by contemporary South African artist William Kentridge displayed in the Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest. This artwork is a series of several videos projected onto the walls based on Nikolai Gogol's classic 1836 short story, 'The Nose'. EPA/PETER KOLLANYI.
BUDAPEST.- The exhibition that opened at the Museum of Fine Arts on 20th September includes a portrait film about Kentridge as well as one of his most recent projects titled “I am not me, the horse is not mine”. Occasioned by the discussion at the museum on 4th October, a significant body of the artist’s film projects will be screened in the form of a special, one-off installation, among them his Soho and Felix series about post-apartheid South Africa, as well as two animation films: Shadow Procession and Ubu and the Truth Commission, the latter being an adaptation of Alfred Jarry’s drama Ubu the King. On the same day a selection of experimental, fine art quality films by György Kovásznai (1934-1983) can also be seen.

The installation “I am not me, the horse is not mine” is actually adapted from Gogol’s The Nose (1836), which can be placed in the larger context of literary history marked by Cervantes’ Don Quijote, written in 1605, and Laurence Sterne’s novel Tristram Shandy, published in 1759. William Kentridge focused his interest on how these authors – using the impossible and the fantastic as a starting point for their works – build a bridge to the absurd which leads to the centre of 20th-century modernity. This course of development of the absurd peaked in the Russian modernists of the 1930s, which is acutely demonstrated by the fact that Dmitri Shostakovich composed an opera based on Gogol’s short story. (The opera made it a hit with the public but was banned not long after its premiere.) In “I am not me, the horse is not mine” Kentridge takes the respective works by Gogol and his predecessors as a basis in order to draw attention to the emergence of the various trends in Russian modernity as well as to the Russian avant-garde having lost the highlighted place it occupied and the tragic fate it had to suffer. The video installation was conceived during the process of Shostakovich’s opera being adapted to the stage at the New York Metropolitan Opera House. The work begins with a nose on the loose, for which Kentridge used authentic film footage from the Soviet Union of the 20s and 30s. “I am not me, the horse is not mine”, i.e. the title itself, is a Russian proverb used to decline responsibility. In his work Kentridge actually mourns the artistic idiom that was lost in the 30s along with the chance to change the fate of humanity, something so many had placed their faith and hope in. One of the film fragments presents a congress held by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union at which one of Lenin’s main confidantes, Nikolai Buharin, was fighting for his political and physical survival. Buharin’s failed speech is imbued with gloomy comedy, and, as Kentridge says, absurdity appears at its most grotesque in the Gogolian drama. In the artist’s view this piece is made especially topical by showing that this reality can only be portrayed through the absurd, where cause is disconnected from effect and the expected order of the world is turned upside down.

The exhibition is curated by art historian Brigitta Iványi-Bitter, who is also the director of the Kovásznai Research Workshop. On 4th October New York-based writer, researcher and art consultant András Szántó will be in conversation with William Kentridge. William Kentridge’s first visit to Budapest is a result of the initiative and invitation of the Kovásznai Research Workshop, and is also due to the artist’s interest taken in György Kovásznai’s oeuvre. Like many others, Kentridge has discovered the parallels between his own works and the animation films Kovásznai started to make from the early 60s. Both of them are fine artists who tried their hands at filmmaking and, therefore, their film projects have kept the references, strategies and approaches taken by fine artists. The similarity of their approach is manifest in several ways: they render the criticism of societal crises of the day in a symbolic narrative; they present the collective traumas erased from social memory/public discourse through the symbolic fate of real individuals; a documentary approach is coupled with lyricsim in their figurative and narrative animation films; and, perhaps most characteristically – given the current state of our culture – the genuine understanding and appreciation of their films is best possible within the domain of the fine arts. The question might well arise: how can such parallels exist between two artists who live so far away from each other both in space and time? Apparently it is not impossible for two artists living in societies that are closed for entirely different reasons to make the central theme of their work the understanding and explanation of the internal mechanisms of the society that surrounds them, as well as getting down to the roots of individual and collective pain. Here we have two artists who, in their time, revolutionised the conservative correlations between genres and genre types, while in regard to referencing tools they drew on the western traditions of art history and the well known visual signs of popular culture.

The classical museum space of the Museum of Fine Arts offers a unique and extremely exciting opportunity to place a contemporary work – especially since it is a media art performance – in a narrative based on the discourse between old and new. Moreover, the fine references William Kentridge makes to the legacy of modernism virtually beg to be used in revealing semantic interplays in the auratic enviroment of one of Budapest’s most elegant museum spaces.

William Kentridge is one of the most recognised contemporary artists of today. In 2009 he was listed among the world’s 100 most influential people by Time Magazine.

The artist was born in 1955 in Johannesburg, South Africa. He attended the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg from 1973 to 1976, and then continued his studies at the Johannesburg Art Foundation from 1976 to 1978 and at the L'École Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq in Paris from 1981 to 1982. He was a witness to the disintegration of one of the harshest social and political struggles of the 20th century: the system of apartheid in South Africa.

In his works Kentridge presents the subjective perspective, doubts and emotional responses he gives to personal experiences projected onto public affairs that the media otherwise reduces to a far more simplified format. One of the unique traits of William Kentridge is his genius in transmuting drastic political events into profound poetic allegories by using film, drawing, sculpture, animation and performance with naturalness and invention. His work is also distinct in technical terms since in an era dominated by digital imaging he continues to apply analogue methods in his films constructed from chalk drawings. In a now-signature technique, he photographs his charcoal drawings and paper collages over time, recording scenes as they evolve through the slight movement of the images. Working without a storyboard or script he plots out his films on paper by exploring a singe phenomenon through a natural process infused by a graceful virtuosity of constant movement and change.

William Kentridge has had major exhibitions at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2009), the Philadelphia Museum of Art (2008), the Moderna Museet, Stockholm (2007) and the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art (2004), while last year he appeared in the Jeu de Pomme and the Louvre in Paris and this year he staged a solo exhibition in the Albertina in Vienna. He also paticipated in several important international art events in recent years such as the Documenta (1997, 2002) and the Sidney Biennale (1996, 2008). His opera and theatre works, usually produced with the South African Handspring Puppet Company, have enjoyed worldwide fame for a decade, and their first joint project, a drama titled Woyzeck on the Highveld, will be performed in Trafó House, Budapest on 7th and 8th October 2011 after having been staged at a number of prominent theatres worldwideDmitri Shostakovich’s opera based on Gogol’s novella The Nose was performed in William Kentridge’s direction at the New York Metropolitan Opera in 2010, and in parallel with this the artist had a large-scale retrospective at the New York Museum of Modern Art. Kentridge won the Kyoto Prize, the “Japanese Nobel Prize”, in the same year.

William Kentridge lives and works in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Museum of Fine Arts | William K |




Last Week News

September 21, 2011

Art Moscow welcomes over forty national and international Contemporary art galleries

Exhibition of portraits by Andy Warhol of the late Elizabeth Taylor at Gagosian Gallery

Works by Roy Lichtenstein from his celebrated Entablatures series at Paula Cooper Gallery

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Christie's announces fashion and accessories sale from the Elizabeth Taylor Collection

Cherry and Martin restages landmark 1970 exhibition "Photography into Sculpture"

National Portrait Gallery announces Lucian Freud portraits exhibition in February 2012

Medieval works of art from the Marquet de Vasselot Collection to be sold at Christie's in Paris

China Institute Gallery presents Blooming in the Shadows: Unofficial Chinese Art, 1974-1985

Sotheby's to sell an important private collection of works by Alexander Benois this November

Circus poster exhibition sensationally brings to life America's first colossal entertainment industry

World Monuments Fund announces two major grants for sites in Tanzania and Cambodia

Nelson-Atkins Museum Major Lender in Pan-Asian Buddhist Art Exhibition at Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts

Exhibition about the fragility and awe-inspiring nature of our oceans at the Pelham Art Center

Mussolini's duds sell for $5.5K at Texas auction

Contemporary art from the Estate of Dr. Edmund P. Pillsbury, Oct. 26, at Heritage Auctions

InterAsia Auctions, the market leader in Asian philately, to hold stamps sale

Polish Jewish museum to open in April 2013

Exhibit explores American Folk Art of quilts

September 20, 2011

Pompidou exhibition throws new light on the work of Norwegian painter Edvard Munch

Warhol, Katz, Henry paintings among $2.8 Million Irish bad bank auction at Christie's

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston acquires Gustave Caillebotte's "Man At His Bath"

Sotheby's New York announces sale of Nicolai Fechin paintings from National Cowboy Museum

DANDAN: Solo exhibition by Japanese artist Tabaimo on view at James Cohan Gallery

Exhibition of recent paintings and drawings by Jenny Saville at Gagosian Gallery

Christo and Jeanne-Claude 40 Years, 12 Exhibitions opens at Annely Juda Fine Art

Swann Galleries' announces autumn auction of African-American fine art in October

UK museums to benefit as Art Fund announces details of schemes worth 1 million to boost collections

Hard-luck comic strip character Ziggy creator Tom Wilson Sr. dies at age 80 in Cincinnati

DeCordova presents Temporary Structures: Performing Architecture in Contemporary Art on view this fall

First solo exhibition with Los Angeles painter Pamela Jorden opens at Romer Young Gallery

Installation Design by Zaha Hadid creates dynamic setting for exhibition of her recent product designs

Exhibition in Houston re-creates a day in the life of fashionable 18th-century Parisians

Exhibition at the Smithsonian Documents Impact of the Railroads on the Native Southwest

University of Richmond Museums presents Achachis y Bordados: Storytelling Embroideries from Peru

Bonhams expands Chinese and Japanese art departments in Europe, Asia and Australia

Lori Eklund promoted to Deputy Director at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art

Endangered 1972 New York City public mural could be restored

Stolen 17th century paintings returned to Bolivia

September 19, 2011

Exhibition by artist Tomas Saraceno opens at the Museum for Contemporary Art in Berlin

Gothic tapestries from Spain, recently restored, on view together for first time at the National Gallery of Art

MoMA presents first major retrospective devoted to the full scope of the career of Willem de Kooning

Extended Drawing: Exhibition by artists Sol LeWitt, Robert Mangold, Bruce Nauman & Richard Serra

Tony Curtis Collection tops $1 million at Julien's Auctions in Beverly Hills; more than twice the presale estimate

Artspace.com releases its first commissioned limited edition multiple with Lawrence Weiner

Jusepe De Ribera's masterpiece Mary Magdalene on view at the Meadows Museum

Hockney in Los Angeles: Iconic prints from the 70's and 80's at Leslie Sacks Fine Art

Peter Saul Print Retrospective, 1966-2010 opens at Carl Solway Gallery in Cincinnati

Christie's in New York to offer two exceptional photograph sales this October

Sotheby's in Hong Kong announces 20th century Chinese art autumn auction

William H. Bunch to auction private collection of classic cars, estate art, antiques and fine jewelry, Oct. 4

"Raw/Cooked": A series of five exhibitions by emerging Brooklyn artists at the Brooklyn Museum

Sotheby's to offer fine & decorative arts from the collection of Edward P. Evans

(e)merge Art Fair in Washington DC, a virtual fair also!

Overview of the overlooked Southern California artists at the Robert Berman Gallery

Solo exhibition of new work by Linda Karshan at Cain Schulte Contemporary Art

Refurbished, re-configured, restored and re-hung: The De Morgan Centre re-opens

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"CIRCA 1986" exhibition at Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art

September 18, 2011

Like Painted Silk: Large-scale exhibition of Pierre-Auguste Renoir's work opens in Chemnitz

Degas and the Ballet: Picturing Movement at the Royal Academy of Arts

Ellsworth Kelly shines in new Boston Museum of Fine Arts Contemporary Art wing

Unknown portrait discovered under Goya's masterpiece in Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum

Exhibition of work by Agnes Martin from the 1980s on view at the Pace Gallery

Brooklyn Museum to Present Keith Haring: 1978-1982 on view in April 2012   

The British Museum is the first UK arts organisation to publish its collection semantically

Kunsthaus Zurich presents a selection of acquisitions of 'Young Art' from its collection

The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center presents an exhibition of European drawings

Researchers from the University of Alberta report feathers in amber reveal dinosaur diversity

New exhibition by British artist Graham Nickson at the Knoedler & Company Gallery

Dutch Royal House criticized for 'racist' painting on Queen Beatrix's iconic gold-trimmed carriage

Fine American paintings, drawings and sculpture at Christie's New York this September

Portland Museum of Art's Winslow Homer Studio Opens in September 2012

Puzzles of the Brain: An artist's journey through amnesia on view at the Walters Art Museum

For its third edition, Greece's second largest city welcomes the Thessaloniki Biennale

Paul Ha Selected as Director of the MIT List Center for the Visual Arts

Walter De Maria's first solo museum exhibition in the U.S. opens at the Menil Collection

Philly home for Barnes collection to open May 19

White Gold: the true cost of cotton exhibited at the International Slavery Museum

September 17, 2011

Exhibition of German portraiture around 1500 opens at the Hypo Cultural Foundation

Exhibition of new work by Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco at Marian Goodman Gallery

Minneapolis Institute of Arts to transfer 5th century B.C. Greek volute krater to Italy

Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art totals $2.3 million at Sotheby's New York

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Wesleyan University's Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery presents Mixed Signals: Artists Consider Masculinity in Sports

Exhibition at Haus der Kunst reflects the versatility of Italian architect Carlo Mollino's oeuvre

Philadelphia Museum of Art appoints Hiromi Kinoshita associate curator of Chinese Art

Nine monumental photoworks by American artist John Chamberlain at Steven Kasher Gallery

Nassau County Museum of Art presents an early first edition of Goya's Los Caprichos

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Exhibition of rarely seen paintings by Eva Hesse presented at the Brooklyn Museum

Eighteen new paintings in oil and mixed media by Vincent Desiderio exhibition at Marlborough Chelsea

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Delhi exhibition explores India's sexy "morning shows"

Cleveland Museum of Art collaborates with regional Foundation to expand reach into Cleveland's West Side

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Extensive solo exhibition of work by Rudolf Schwarzkogler at Galerie Guido W. Baudach

September 16, 2011

Masterpieces by the giants of the Antwerp School on view at the Hermitage Amsterdam

Israeli lifeguard Avi Afia rescues sunken treasure from the Mediterranean sea near Tel Aviv

Unseen works alongside rare, vintage dye-transfer prints by Ernst Haas at Atlas Gallery

Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive unveils plans for new facility designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro

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New site-specific installation by David Byrne "Tight Spot" exhibited by The Pace Gallery

Bortolami Gallery presents Richard Aldrich's second solo show with the gallery

Ludwig Museum exhibition expands the scope of earlier shows on Photorealism

Guernsey's Auction House presents unprecedented Rock & Roll auction of remarkable items

Shortlist announced for the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2011

Keno Auctions offers rare silver from Estate of master silversmith Hans Christensen

Seattle Art Museum announces Jenny Heishman as 2011 Betty Bowen award winner

After 80+ years in same family, Taos school artwork appraised for $200K-$400K; to be auctioned

Frick Art Reference Library photo archive records now accessible online

Significant support secures Sickert for Wales

Exceptional masterpiece by Boris Kustodiev for sale at MacDougall's Russian Art Auctions

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