Artist William Kentridge receives honorary doctorate from UP

Posted on April 13, 2018

South African artist William Kentridge has been awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Pretoria on 12 April. He is renowned for his animated expressionist drawings and films exploring time, the history of colonialism and the aspirations and failures of revolutionary politics.

Kentridge receives a doctor of philosophy degree from the Faculty of Humanities.

Kentridge first achieved international recognition in the 1990s with a series of what he called “drawings for projection”. These short-animated films were based on everyday life under apartheid. From there he has widened his thematic range, expanding beyond the local to examine other political conflicts. His oeuvre charts a universal history of war and revolution, evoking the complexities and tensions of postcolonial memory and imaging the residual traces of destructive policies and regimes.

“William Kentridge has been an advocate for the arts in South Africa for decades. His work has been consistently courageous and he is an inspiration to fellow artists and humanists around the world. We are gladdened by this opportunity to recognise and acknowledge his contribution,” said Prof Reddy, Dean of the Faculty of Humanities.

Despite global acclaim, Kentridge has never lost his uniquely South African and African outlook of the world.

“In addressing difficult topics, he evades becoming didactic and instead creates “an art of ambiguity, contradiction, uncompleted gestures and uncertain things”, in his own words. As the artist increasingly inserts himself through self-reflection in his aminations, moving away from a cast of fictional characters, his own reflections take centre stage in what can be termed a “theatre of memory”. Kentridge has become an exceptional and outstanding envoy for the arts,” the citation reads in part.

Later this month, the faculty will also award an honorary doctorate to cultural activist Mike van Graan, on 23 April. Indian historian Romila Thapar will be awarded with an honorary doctorate on 8 May, also by the Faculty of Humanities.

African theologian Emmanuel Lartey will receive an honorary doctorate from the Faculty of Theology on 20 April, for his work in practical theology.

The University will once again live stream all graduation ceremonies. Family and friends who cannot attend in person are able to connect on  

- Author Department of University Relations

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