William Kentridge. Picture: SUPPLIED
William Kentridge. Picture: SUPPLIED

Madrid — Renowned visual artist William Kentridge, best known for his animated films of shape-shifting charcoal drawings, won Spain’s top arts prize, the Princess of Asturias Award, on Thursday.

The jury hailed Kentridge as "one of the most multi-faceted, innovative artists on the international scene" in its citation for the €50,000 prize. His work "has expressed emotions and metaphors related to the history and reality of his country which, nonetheless, transcend the latter and raise essential questions regarding the human condition," it added.

Born in Johannesburg in 1955, Kentridge’s parents were both lawyers who specialised in defending the victims of the apartheid regime in SA. His roughly hewn animations, which he calls "drawings in motion" that he began sketching from charcoals in the 1980s, bring to life SA’s post-colonial history.

Kentridge has also made engravings, sculptures and collages, as well as video installations. His works have been featured in exhibitions in the Louvre in Paris and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

The art award is one of eight prizes handed out yearly by a foundation named for Spain’s Crown Princess Leanor. Other categories include sport, literature and scientific research.

The awards will be given in a ceremony presided over by Spanish King Felipe and broadcast live on TV later this year. Past winners of the arts prize include US film-maker Francis Ford Coppola, Austrian film-maker Michael Haneke, and US singer Bob Dylan, the winner of the 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature.


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