William Kentridge

William Kentridge (born 28 April 1955) is a South African artist best known for his prints, drawings, and animated films. These are constructed by filming a drawing, making erasures and changes, and filming it again. He continues this process meticulously, giving each change to the drawing a quarter of a second to two seconds’ screen time. A single drawing will be altered and filmed this way until the end of a scene. These palimpsest-like drawings are later displayed along with the films as finished pieces of art.

See more information on Tate Gallery website

Animator William Kentridge animates with charcoal on paper, leaving traces of each drawing behind as the movement progresses. These traces lend a depth to the image as well as the time of the animation. They also serve a narrative purpose. Kentridge’s early animations were copied from early Soviet films, placed in the Apartheid, South African context. Apartheid was a system predicated on the exploitation of black South African labour in the interests of white South African society. Kentridge uses his animation to express his feelings of guilt for being a white male with inherited wealth and status as well as his personal fantasies of acceptance and forgiveness. The layered shadows of previous drawings that haunt his animations are ghostly reminders of the time that each drawing took to make. Animation here serves as a kind of penance.

Working process

Examples of charcoal animation

Evocative charcoal drawings of Johannesburg. Has detailed historical overview, but the images could speak for themselves.