Drawing for City Deep (Johannesburg Art Gallery)

William Kentridge
Drawing for City Deep (Johannesburg Art Gallery), 2018/19
Charcoal and red pencil on paper
Work: 128 x 190 cm

"William Kentridge is perhaps most widely known for his series of ten animated films drawn over a period of 22 years and set in his home city of Johannesburg. Originally conceived as a distraction, something to fill the gaps between exhibitions, the films have magnificently exceeded their brief, establishing instead one of the great characters in contemporary fictions: Soho Eckstein - Highveld mining magnate and Kentridge's alter ego. The timeline of the films covers South Africa's transition from apartheid to democracy. The specific events and crises comprising the country's political transformation form the backdrop to the story unfolding across the screen. But the films are not about political events. Instead, the saga traces a different and parallel arc - Soho's grand awakening from capitalist blockhead and cuckold to sober penitent, coming to terms with his own frailties and the first signs of mortality - and it is this human quality that gives the films thei power and enduring appeal." Matthew Kentridge, from The Soho Chronicles: 10 Films by William Kentridge City Deep is the much anticipated 11th film in the Soho Eckstein series, which continues the narrative where we left off with Other Faces in 2011. City Deep is set chiefly in the highveld landscape and the Johannesburg Art Gallery - the gallery of Kentridge's childhood. We find a deeply contemplative Soho wandering the halls and exhibition spaces, staring dolefully at paintings and into vitrines, before the dramatic destruction of the gallery by flooding - the imagined demise of the actual institution in a state of woeful dereliction.