Review Round Up: William Kentridge, Royal Academy of Arts

We take a look at what critics have had to say about the Royal Academy’s latest exhibition exploring the work of the South African artist.

Video still from Notes Towards a Model Opera, 2015. Photograph: William Kentridge

The Guardian: **** “The RA show is also necessarily fragmentary and incomplete, filled with stops and starts. Tracing the development of his art from the 1980s to the present, in which drawing plays the primary role, it also includes animations, filmed performance and sculpture, and sometimes works that involve all these elements together.”

Evening Standard: ***** “The poetic snippets veer from ominous to comforting – “Start dying/assiduously/wisely/optimistically/Waste no time”; “But Joy will overtake Fear/No protection but each others’ limbs”. And all this is accompanied by the astonishingly beautiful song of Nhlanhla Mahlangu. It is a solemn and stunning end to a dazzling, endlessly stimulating show.”

iNews: ***** “Kentridge doesn’t do things by half measure – this is an operatic epic of a show. It may be too much for some people. He’s a giant of the cultural scene: an artist of wit, intelligence and generosity. If you have three hours to give this exhibition, you will be richly rewarded.”

Time Out: *** “But his flower works are a little dull, and his more recent, grander film and opera projects are pretty bloated. WIth more budget and more time comes more self-indulgence. And he loses his directness and impact in the process. I mean, the opera about trees – shown here as a stage set and film – manages to be huge, ambitious and also somehow totally forgettable.”

Culture Whisper: **** “Big, bold and political are the three words that can be used to sum up the art of William Kentridge – it’s definitely the case for his Royal Academy exhibition that’s gone all in on an ambitious install that finds the main galleries looking completely different when compared to the Summer Exhibition it hosted before.”

The Telegraph: ** “The Royal Academy’s retrospective showcases the power of the South African’s art – but also makes clear how muddled his methods are.”

The Independent: *** “A solo show in the RA’s Main Galleries is an honour – but one that doesn’t come without a degree of risk.”

The Observer: **** “Kentridge is so prolific that he could have filled the RA many times over; as it is, he has covered every available inch, making charcoal drawings directly on the walls. Yet this selection seems almost too polite in its nod towards Europe.”

The exhibition is on display at the Royal Academy of Arts until the 11th December.

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