A Universal Archive: William Kentridge as Printmaker

Past exhibition
Hayward Gallery Touring

Installation View of exhibition by artist, William Kentridge Hayward Touring Exhibition
Installation view: A Universal Archive: William Kentridge as Printmaker at the Bluecoat, Liverpool 2012. Photograph Jon Barraclough.

A mixed-media print exhibition of 100 experimental and serial works

Made between 1988 and the present day by the pre-eminent South African artist. 

William Kentridge is internationally acclaimed for his films, drawings, theatre and opera productions. But he is also an innovative and prolific printmaker. He studied etching at the Johannesburg Art Foundation, and printmaking has remained central to his work. 

In 25 years Kentridge has produced more than 300 prints, including etchings, engravings, aquatints, silkscreens, linocuts and lithographs, often experimenting with challenging formats and combinations of techniques. 

Many of his key themes were first explored in his prints; he has said that there have been ‘many projects that have ended up as either a piece of theatre or an animated film which have their origins in printmaking’.

This exhibition included a major series of prints never shown before in Britain. Kentridge’s distinctive use of light and shadow and silhouettes, his concern with memory and perspective, and his absorption in literary texts are all strongly in evidence in this new work. 

The prints ranged in scale from intimate etchings and drypoints to 2.5-metre high linocuts. These included ‘Portage’ (2000), a four-metre-long accordion-folded multi-panelled book with torn-paper silhouetted figures collaged onto unbound pages of the French encyclopedia Le Nouveau Larousse Illustré; ‘Ubu Tells the Truth’ (1996-7), a series of eight etchings with soft ground, aquatint and drypoint, and ‘Living Language’ (1999), a series of experimental drypoint prints on vinyl 33rpm LPs.

Exhibition venues

This exhibition toured to the following venues:

  • the Bluecoat, Liverpool
  • mac, Birmingham
  • QUAD, Derby
  • University of Northumbria Gallery, Newcastle
  • Peninsula Arts, Plymouth
  • Arts Centre, Aberystwyth
Touring exhibitions

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