For the September online edition of Art Basel Goodman Gallery presents work by the established South African artists William Kentridge and Sam Nhlengethwa, as well as emerging Colombian artist, Mateo López. The works presented were all made in the artist’s studios over the course of the last few months, before and during lockdown, in their respective cities.
In 2013, Kentridge & López collaborated in the Rolex mentorship and exchange program, where they spent several months together, exchanging ideas and engaging in an extended creative dialogue.
In Kentridge’s words, the studio “becomes a place where the world is invited in. There are images stuck up on the walls, thoughts coming in, conversations coming in, pieces read, images seen in art-historical books, films seen … The studio becomes not just a diagram, but a physical demonstration of what it is that we do in our heads all the time, where we are both receiving information and bringing to that which we receive, things we already know – images, thoughts, associations – and making sense of the world by combining these two different processes.”
López’s practice is anchored in drawing and often expands to incorporate other mediums. The collage works presented at Art Basel form part of the ongoing series The waste of my time in which López repurposes unused materials in his studio. This series brings into focus López’s interest in art as a means of engaging with questions of repair, defined by his ongoing search to build and shape a different future – a process which unfolds into diverse references from Latin American art, architecture, design and education.
Over the course of his career, Nhlengethwa’s ongoing Interiors series has become an important space for the artist to pay various tributes, bringing cultural icons into conversation with his practice and each other. The painting-collage works comprise an eclectic constellation of references and are presented together as their own contained interior space.
William Kentridge was born in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1955. His career has spanned five decades and his work has been shown in major museums, galleries, fairs and biennials around the world since the 1990s, including Documenta in Kassel, Germany (1997, 2003, 2012), the Museum of Modern Art in New York (1998, 2010), the Albertina Museum in Vienna (2010), Jeu de Paume in Paris (2010), and the Musée du Louvre in Paris (2010), where he presented Carnets d’Egypte, a project conceived especially for the Egyptian Room. Kentridge’s production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute was presented at Theatre de la Monnaie in Brussels, Festival d’Aix, and in 2011 at La Scala in Milan, and his production of Shostakovich’s The Nose was seen at The New York Metropolitan Opera in 2010 and again in 2013, travelling to Festival d’Aix and to Lyon in 2011. The five-channel video and sound installation The Refusal of Time was made for Documenta (13) in Kassel, Germany, in 2012; since then it has been seen at MAXXI in Rome, the Metropolitan Museum, New York, and in many other cities including Boston, Perth, Kyoto, Helsinki and Wellington. A substantial survey exhibition of Kentridge’s work opened in Rio de Janeiro in 2012, going on in following years to Porto Alegre, São Paulo, Bogota, Medellin, and Mexico City. In the summer of 2014 Kentridge’s production of Schubert’s Winterreise opened at the Vienna Festival, Festival d’Aix, and Holland Festival. In the fall it opened at the Lincoln Center in New York. Paper Music, a concert of projections with live music by Philip Miller, opened in Florence in September 2014, and was presented at Carnegie Hall in New York in late October 2014. Both the installation The Refusal of Time and its companion performance piece Refuse the Hour were presented in Cape Town in February 2015. More recently, Kentridge’s production of the Alban Berg opera Wozzeck premiered at the Salzburg Festival in 2017 and last year his acclaimed performance project The Head & The Load opened at Tate Modern in London, and travelled to Park Avenue Armory in December 2018. In June 2019, A Poem That I Used To Know opened at Kunstmuseum, Basel in Switzerland, which travelled to LaM in Lille in early 2020. Why Should I Hesitate, a major survey show, divided across the Norval Foundation and Zetiz MOCAA, both in Cape Town, opened in late August 2019 and will run until July 2020. In addition, Kentridge’s new opera project, Waiting for the Sibyl, premiered at Teatro dell’Opera di Roma in September 2019 and will be seen in several European cities in 2020.
In 2010, Kentridge received the prestigious Kyoto Prize in recognition of his contributions in the field of arts and philosophy. In 2011, he was elected as an Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and received the degree of Doctor of Literature honoris causa from the University of London. In 2012, Kentridge presented the Charles Eliot Norton Lectures at Harvard University and was elected member of the American Philosophical Society and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Also in that year, he was awarded the Dan David Prize by Tel Aviv University, and was named as Commandeur des Arts et Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture and Communication. In 2013, William Kentridge was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Fine Arts by Yale University and in 2014 received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Cape Town. In 2017, Kentridge received the Princess of Asturias Award for the Arts in Spain and 2019, he was honoured with the Praemium Imperiale Laureate: Painting by the Japan Art Association in Tokyo.
Mateo López (b. 1978, Bogotá, Colombia) lives and works be-tween Bogotá and New York. He studied architecture for two years at the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá before switching to Visual Arts at Bogotá’s Universidad de Los Andes.
López’s work engages with cartographies, journeys and con-struction processes while grappling with themes of chance, encounter and time. His practice traces a conceptual ap-proach, expanding from drawings to installations, architec-ture, films and sculptural choreography. Key international solo exhibitions include Sin Principio / Sin Final Museo de Arte Universidad Nacional, Bogota, Colombia (2018); Undo List, The Drawing Center, New York, USA (2017); A Weed is a Plant Out of Place, Lismore Castle Arts, Lismore, Ireland (2016) and Deriva at Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León, Spain (2009). Important group exhibitions include United States of Latin America, curated by Jens Hoffmann and Pab-lo León de la Barra at Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, Detroit, USA (2015); A Trip from Here to There, Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA (2013) and Ha sempre um copo de mar para um homem navegar, 29 Bienal de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil (2010).
Major awards and residencies include the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative. William Kentridge’s Protégé, Geneva Switzerland in 2012 and the Gasworks Residency Program, London, UK in 2010, which was followed by an exhibition.
López’s work can be found in public collections around the world, including the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Canada; Banco de la Republica, Biblioteca Luis Ángel Arango, Bogotá, Colombia, Inhotim, Minas Gerais, Brazil and Museum of Mod-ern Art (MoMA), New York, NY.
Sam Nhlengethwa was born in the black township community of Payneville near Springs (a satellite mining town east of Johannesburg), in 1955 and grew up in Ratanda location in nearby Heidelberg. In the 1980s, he moved to Johannesburg where he honed his practice at the renowned Johannesburg Art Foundation under its founder Bill Ainslie.
Nhlengethwa is one of the founders of the legendary Bag Factory in Newtown, in the heart of the city, where he used to share studio space with fellow greats of this pioneering generation of South African artists, such as David Koloane and Pat Mautloa.
Despite Nhlengethwa’s pioneering role in South Africa art, his work has received rare visibility in London. A major survey exhibition, titled Life, Jazz and Lots of Other Things, was hosted by SCAD Museum of Art in Savannah, Georgia in 2014, which was then co-hosted in Atlanta by SCAD and the Carter Center.
Other notable exhibitions and accolades in South Africa and around the world include: in 1994 – the year South Africa held its first democratic elections – Nhlengethwa was awarded the prestigious Standard Bank Young Artist of the Year award; in 1995, his work was included in the Whitechapel Gallery’s Seven Stories About Modern Art in Africa in London; in 2000, he participated in a two-man show at Seippel Art Gallery in Cologne.
Other significant international group exhibitions include Constructions: Contemporary Art from South Africa at Museu de Arte Contemporanea de Niteroi at in Brazil in 2011, Beyond Borders: Global Africa at the University of Michigan Museum of Art in 2018.
Nhlengethwa’s work has featured on a number of international biennales: in 2003, his work was included in the 8th Havana Biennale, Southern African Stories: A Print Collection, the 12th International Cairo Biennale in 2010, the 2013 Venice Biennale as part of the South African pavilion, titled Imaginary Fact: Contemporary South African Art and the Archive, and in the 6th Beijing Biennale in 2015.
Nhlengethwa’s practice features in important arts publications, such as Phaidon’s The 20th Century Art Book (2001).