South African artist William Kentridge was awarded an honorary PhD of philosophy from the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Pretoria on Thursday.
Kentridge is well known for his animated expressionist drawings and films exploring time, the history of colonialism and the aspirations and failures of revolutionary politics.
“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 humanities dean Professor Vasu Reddy.
The artist 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. He then expanded his thematic range to examine other political conflicts.
“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,” the citation reads in part.
“As the artist increasingly inserts himself through self-reflection in his animations, 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.”