Artist William Kentridge gets honorary doctorate from UP

Artist William Kentridge during his exhibition

Artist William Kentridge during his exhibition "Notes Towards A Model Opera" on January 20, 2016 at the Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg. Picture: Gallo Images

His work has been consistently courageous and he is an inspiration to fellow artists and humanists around the world, says professor Vasu Reddy.

Renowned South African artist William Kentridge was yesterday awarded an honorary doctorate in philosophy by the University of Pretoria’s faculty of humanities.

The Johannesburg-born Kentridge is renowned for his expressionist drawings and films exploring time, the history of colonialism and the aspirations and failures of revolutionary politics.

The 62-year-old is one of more than 11 000 students that will receive their degrees during this year’s autumn graduation ceremony. A total of 202 doctorates, 1 389 master’s and 2 412 honour’s degrees will be awarded at ceremonies to be held until May 8.

Professor Vasu Reddy, who is also dean of the faculty of humanities at the institution, said Kentridge first achieved international recognition in the 1990s with a series of what he called “drawings for projection”.

He said 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,” said Reddy.

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.”

He added: “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.”

On April 23, the university will also award an honorary doctorate to cultural activist Mike van Graan.

Indian historian Romila Thapar will be awarded an honorary doctorate on May 8, also by the faculty of humanities.

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

UP vice-chancellor and principal Cheryl de la Rey congratulated the new graduates.

Achieving an academic degree does not come easy. It requires persistence, dedication and hard work,” she said. “Our graduates can be justifiably proud of reaching this milestone.”

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