• © William Kentridge
  • © William Kentridge
  • © William Kentridge
  • © William Kentridge
  • © William Kentridge

William Kentridge Peripheral Thinking



12 05 '15 - 20:00

More info


Centre for Fine Arts
Rue Ravenstein 23
B-1000 Brussels


ca. 45 min

In English

In search of artists in whose work and careers we recognize the same building blocks of the Europalia DNA (amazement, curiosity, wonderment, surprise, building bridges), we quickly arrived at William Kentridge

This is perhaps true for most artists, but particularly so for Kentridge. To understand his work one has to rely both on gut instinct and interpretive power. At first sight, Kentridge’s drawings, films, and scenography look very rough and sparse, even sombre, but soon feelings of vulnerability, dreaminess, discomfort and curiosity prevail. 

Kentridge appears to be more interested in storytelling than conveying emotions. The link with society, philosophy and politics is present but unstated. His art cannot be uncoupled from the time or place in which it was created, but is not a direct commentary and even less so a pamphlet.

In his work, the artist wants to keep optimism under control and nihilism at bay. 

Throughout his oeuvre, Kentridge continues to place importance on amasement, the willingness to be open to new impulses and risk taking. The public must also be willing to take these steps. To be collateral for distrust, we must once again acknowledge the value of doubting, searching, and exploration. 

Kentridge wants to make the extraordinary, ordinary. He commands respect by providing insight into how one can arrive at something special using everyday resources. “The normality of the extraordinary. And vice versa.”

During his lecture, William Kentridge will provide insights into the process that propels his artistic creation. The concrete manifestation of this reflection is an exhibition that opens in June 2015 in Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing. In this exhibition, the artist reflects on the past 25 years of his artistry. He is doing this in order to better understand both the way his artistic output and his philosophical and humanistic thinking have evolved. 

What is inspiration? Why are we inspired by something? What happens before that moment of inspiration? How about the whole thought process? 

But alongside these cognitive processes there are naturally others, more or less unconscious, instinctive, much more difficult to describe aspects, things, memories, and events that drive William Kentridge as an artist and give form to his work. 

During the lecture, Kentridge reflects upon his drawings, his first animated films that gave life to characters such as the semi-autobiographical figure Soho Eckstein, as well his music, multidisciplinary installations, scenography, and dance. 

Peripheral thinking. With this title, Kentridge wants to express what, according to him, an artist (and perhaps this is true for every human being) must dare to relinquish in his/her thinking: rationality, the explicable, and the scientific. Only in this way can one arrive at unexpected insights. The wandering of the mind in the periphery of shared and personal experiences, accepted discourse, and the canon of (art) history is what drives Kentridge. 

He does this in sparkling style. The spoken and written word, images, music, dance and (animated) films provide a running commentary throughout the lecture. 

Nobody leaves unmoved. The deluge of information is overwhelming but also questioning and seductive. From mango to Mao, from the Paris Commune to Tiananmen, from Johannesburg over Dar es Salaam to us, in Brussels.