Dark arts: William Kentridge draws a line to connect opera and art
The visibility of South African multi-media artist William Kentridge has ratcheted up considerably since his artistry is now being showcased at the Metropolitan Opera House. There, Kentridge has staged and directed Alban Berg’s opera The Lulu Plays, which first premiered in 1937. For those who can’t take in the celebrated opera (or won’t since it happens to be a staggering four hours long), but want to see some of the drawings which Kentridge created for the production and had projected onto the stage sets, there’s a fortuitous alternative.
New York’s Marian Goodman Gallery presents ‘Drawings for Lulu’, an exhibition of 67 working drawings, along with four signed linocut prints and a limited-edition artist book, The Lulu Plays by Frank Wedekind, which features illustrations by the Kentridge and is published by Arion Press.
For his drawings, Kentridge reached back to German Expressionist woodcuts, such as Kirchner, for inspiration to render the tale of a femme fatale’s descent into prison and eventually death. In applying black ink onto actual dictionary pages, the artist captures the characters, some of which he based on historical figures like Sigmund Freud, in a fractured form telling of a ruthless world.
There’s a hauntingly electric nature to the drawings, which vividly tell of Lulu’s tragic demise. With the opera already receiving rave reviews, this show is another way to take in Kentridge’s latest creations.