Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1955, William Kentridge is the first world-famous artist from the African continent to illustrate a Mouton label. The eclectic nature of his studies, combining political science with fine arts and theatre, is reflected in the variety of his tastes and talents. Having started out as an actor and stage director in his home city, to which he has remained faithfully attached, he soon turned to animated drawing and video while refining the technique that would make him famous: charcoal drawings or black-card cutouts projected or stuck on various surfaces, with movement being rendered by the superposition of successive phases. Frequently drawing inspiration from dark times in his country’s recent past, he asserts a “political art” that is nevertheless open to both humour and poetry.
A display of his work at the 1997 Kassel Documenta marked the starting-point for many more exhibitions in prestigious venues ranging from the Venice and São Paulo Biennials and the Louvre in Paris to Berlin’s Martin-Gropius-Bau, MoMA in New York and the Albertina in Vienna.
His drawings, videos, sculptures, collages and performances have won numerous international awards, including Japan’s Kyoto Prize and Spain’s Princess of Asturias Award. At the same time he has maintained a brilliant career as an opera director and set designer in Europe and America. His work on Shostakovich’s The Nose, based on a short story by Gogol, was acclaimed from New York to the Aix-en-Provence Festival. More recently, his production The Head and the Load, about Africans who served in Europe during the First World War, was a huge success in London in 2018.
In his work for Mouton, The Triumphs of Bacchus, the silhouettes he assembles in a joyful procession are inspired by Bacchic characters from the paintings of great masters from Titian to Matisse, underlining the truth that a great wine, although first and foremost a pleasure, is also inseparable from a cultural tradition which demands respect and moderation – not least Château Mouton Rothschild 2016!