Old gods have retired
William Kentridge is world-renowned for the charcoal-sketched stop motion animated films he produced in the 1990s. He creates unique and distinct movement in his artworks by erasing and retouching characters for specific sequences. This phantasmic visual style informs and reflects the main themes of his work: South African socio-political history, colonial oppression, conflict, transience and memory.
It is worth noting that Kentridge’s parents were prominent anti-apartheid lawyers representing significant freedom fighters such as Albert Luthuli, Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela, as well as Steve Biko’s family during the inquest following Biko’s untimely death in 1977. These significant events shaped Kentridge’s upbringing, studies and overall work as an artist, filmmaker and theatre arts activist.
Old gods have retired is notable for being one of Kentridge’s first experiments with the ‘coffee lift’ etching process, a newer sustainable technique where coffee liquid is painted directly onto an etching plate. The fluidity of the coffee allows for Kentridge’s figures to take on a dynamic painterly quality in this work, recalling his acclaimed animations.