William Joseph Kentridge (South African, born 1955)
Construction for 'Return' (tenor) mixed media 88 x 98 x 34 cm. (34 5/8 x 38 9/16 x 13 3/8in.)
PROVENANCE: Purchased from the Goodman Gallery, Cape Town, 16 April 2009
EXHIBITED: Venice, Palazzo Tito, (Repeat) From the Beginning/Da Capo, 30 November 2008 - 16 January 2009 Cape Town, Goodman Gallery, (Repeat) From the Beginning/Da Capo, 11 December 2008 - 24 January 2009
LITERATURE: William Kentridge: (Repeat) From the Beginning/Da Capo, (Milan, 2008), illustrated pp.12-15
Construction for 'Return' (tenor) was part of a larger project in which Kentridge was invited to put together a solo exhibition in Venice through the Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa, alongside a film for projection on the safety curtain of the stage in the famous opera house, La Fenice. When the opera was in session, the film triptych Breathe, Dissolve, Return was accompanied by the sound of the orchestra warming up. It was this musical journey from sonic chaos and disjointed stimuli to harmonious coherence that the artist sought to evoke in sculptural form.
In the constructions for Return, of which the current lot is a central figure, the sculptural equivalent of "tuning up" finds its expression in the arrangement of myriad fragments of black paper, carefully attached to a wire armature and mounted on a turntable. Moving slowly through a 360 degree axis, the sculptures cast a shadow and create a silhouette that only comes together coherently from a single viewpoint; a sudden, breathtaking "gathering out of chaos to order".
Reversing the traditional art historical quest for the illusion of three-dimensionality on a two-dimensional plane, Kentridge explores the possibilities for a flat image to be rendered through a three-dimensional form. In making the work, the artist must constantly "shift his attention... between the three-dimensional Calderesque construction emerging out of bits of wire and paper in front of him, and the two-dimensional shadow cast by that sculpture".
Construction for 'Return' (tenor) is both a key part of the La Fenice film projection and a compelling aesthetic object in its own right, a comment on the fragility of coherence that lies at the heart of the human condition: "In the last few years I've been looking a lot at not the nature of perception, but the phenomenon of it what it is that we do when we recognise something, how we construct the world from fragments..." (Kentridge, interview July 2008)
BIBLIOGRAPHY: W. Kentridge, 'Some Notes on (Repeat) From the Beginning/Da Capo' in William Kentridge: (Repeat) From the Beginning/Da Capo, (Milan, 2008), pp. 16-25. p. 25 J. Taylor, 'The Eye of the Beholder', in William Kentridge: (Repeat) From the Beginning/Da Capo, (Milan, 2008), pp. 82-93, p. 83