Felix in Exile has been signed twice: numbered 9/10 in pencil in the margin and blind embossed with the Caversham Press chop mark.
William Kentridge (born 28 April 1955) is a South African artist best known for his prints, drawings, and animated films.
As someone who is ethnically Jewish in South Africa, Kentridge has a unique position as a third-party observer. His parents were lawyers, famous for their defence of victims of apartheid. Kentridge developed an ability to remove himself somewhat from the atrocities committed under the later regimes. The basics of South Africa's socio-political condition and history must be known to grasp his work fully, much the same as in the cases of such artists as Francisco Goya and Käthe Kollwitz.
Kentridge is of expressionist lineage: form often alludes to content and vice versa. The feeling that is manipulated by the use of palette, composition and media, among others, often plays an equally vital role in the overall meaning as the subject and narrative of a given work. One must use one's gut reactions as well as one's interpretive skills to find meaning in Kentridge's work, much of which reveals very little actual content. Due to the sparse, rough and expressive qualities of Kentridge's handwriting, the viewer sees a sombre picture upon first glance, an impression that is perpetuated as the image illustrates a vulnerable and uncomfortable situation.
Aspects of social injustice that have transpired over the years in South Africa have often become fodder for Kentridge's pieces. Casspirs Full of Love, viewable at the Metropolitan Museum, appears to be nothing more than heads in boxes to the average American viewer, but South Africans know that a casspir is a vehicle used to put down riots, a kind of a crowd-control tank.
The title, Casspirs Full of Love, written along the side of the print, is suggestive of the narrative and is oxymoronic. A casspir full of love is much like a bomb that bursts with happiness - it is an intangible improbability. The purpose of a machine such as this is to instil "peace" by force, but Kentridge points to the fact that it was used as a tool to keep lower-class natives from taking colonial power and money.
William Kentridge: Felix in Exile
Medium: Colour screenprint.
Size: H: 215mm x W: 265mm x D: 2mm
Edition: 9 / 10