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Kentridge and Dumas in Conversation

A film by Catherine Meyburgh

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In this film, William Kentridge and Marlene Dumas – two of the most celebrated names in international contemporary art – come face to face in a series of frank, witty and intense discussions about their work and practice. The film follows them from the gentle ambience of a dinner conversation, to their studios – where we are given insight into the way that each artist works – to some of their finished works and installations. What emerges is how very differently these two highly successful South African artists approach image making. Dumas’ method is deeply intuitive – she often works on the floor as though embracing her paintings, pouring and dabbing paint to produce her remarkable portraits. Kentridge is intensely systematic, alternating gestural mark making with the repetitive action of drawing-filming-erasing for his animated films.

There are, however, striking similarities between the two. Kentridge and Dumas are figural artists, in whose work the human figure occupies an important position, both suggesting and giving rise to some of the central concerns of their respective oeuvres. Dumas analyzes and explores the human face and body, seeking to convey mood and character, to understand individuality and human experience in all its myriad forms. Kentridge treats the human form as a kind of landscape. In his animated films, figures arise from and merge into the physical environment so that Kentridge’s exploration of form is never separated from his desire to understand the context that gives rise to character. It may be one of those strange flukes of history that these two internationally acclaimed artists were born in South Africa, just two years apart: Dumas in Cape Town in 1953 and Kentridge in Johannesburg in 1955.

KENTRIDGE AND DUMAS IN CONVERSATION shows the two artists engaged in intense discussion about drawing, painting and filmmaking, and includes footage of the artists in their studios and of their works.

“Recommended! Honest and heartfelt; captures in a natural way the two at work, taking us inside their techniques and processes.” —Sebastian Derry, Educational Media Reviews Online (EMRO)

“Eye-opening and fascinating!” —TV Guide

“A visually rich film shows the range of their work in both studio and gallery spaces.” —Culture Unplugged

“William Kentridge and Marlene Dumas are two of the most celebrated names in international contemporary art.” —The Smithsonian

Special Mention, Cape Winelands Film Festival 2010
Festival International Du Livre D’Art & Du Film 2012

72 minutes / Color
Closed Captioned
Release: 2022
Copyright: 2009

For individual consumers (home video)

This DVD is sold for private, home use only.

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Subject areas:
Art, South Africa, Cultural Anthropology, Biographies, Cultural Studies, Jewish Studies, Media Studies, Women’s Studies

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