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The Divine Comedy

Vancouver Art Gallery
Vancouver BC Thru Apr 25, 2004

William Kentridge – Still from Stereoscope (detail)
William Kentridge, Still from Stereoscope (detail), 1999 [Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver BC, thru Apr 25]

The line between comedy and violence is often a fine one. The Divine Comedy exhibits the work of three artists – Francisco de Goya, Buster Keaton and William Kentridge – whose black comedy, slapstick, political drawings or satirical films belong to genres of art at this intersection.

These artists responded to the social conditions of very divergent cultures and times. The Spanish artist Francisco de Goya portrayed the horrors of the Napoleonic invasion of Spain between 1810-1814. One hundred years later, the American filmmaker Buster Keaton pitted ordinary civilians against the constantly imminent disasters of modern life that he saw in the machine age. In recent years, South African artist William Kentridge creates animated films of charcoal drawings portraying post-apartheid social and political upheavals.

The techniques of each artist are fascinating in themselves. For The Disasters of War, Francisco de Goya used a unique combination of etching and aquatint. His prints of the atrocities of war were starkly realistic and not published until 1863, long after his death. During the 1920s, Buster Keaton made innovative use of gadgets and props, as well as, unprecedented camera techniques involving double exposures. In his current work, William Kentridge modifies each drawing on which his films are based by erasing or adding information thousands of times as he shoots each frame.

A series of public talks and film screenings accompany the exhibition. For more information go to www.vanartgallery.bc.ca or call 604.662.4719.

Mia Johnson

 Tue, Feb 3, 2004