Writing Art History Since 2002

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Kentridge’s Sleeper a unique working proof: This large reclining male figure has its origin in Ubu Tells the Truth, a portfolio of 8 etchings produced in 1996-7 and the theatre production Ubu & the Truth Commission, which premiered in Weimar, Germany, launching an international tour that culminated in 1998 at Spier in Stellenbosch.

William Kentridge, Sleeper & Ubu, 1977, R300 000 – 400 000 

Kentridge drew on French dramatist Alfred Jarry’s play Ubu Roi, which premiered in 1896, to reflect on the revelations of the Truth andReconciliation Commission. Into the bloated form of the mad despot Ubu the body of a man has been inserted – asleep, naked and vulnerable.

While entirely different in form, the Sleepers are reminiscent of Goya’s The Sleep of Reason produces Monsters, his socio-political commentary on the vices of eighteenth-century Spain, where the artist is surrounded by demonic creatures. Produced in 1997 as the new constitution wascoming into effect and the TRC hearings were exposing evidence of unlawful activity and gross human rights violations, Kentridge’s Sleepers consider the implications of those revelations and their impact on the bodies and psyches of South Africans.

The artist has described how he obtained texture in his large drawings by wheeling bicycles across the paper, hitting it with charcoal-impregnated silk rope and inviting children and cats to walk across it .¹ In the Sleeper prints a range of materials and objects were placed into the soft ground on the copper plate to create theextraordinary range of textures that add visual interest, evoke the passage of time and suggest the flaws and mutilations inscribed onto the human body.

Important South African & International Art, Furniture, Silver, Ceramics, Glass & Jewellery including the Vivienne Linder Collection

Monday 8 October 2012
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Preview: Friday 5 to Sunday 7 October from 10am to 5pm
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