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Sat Sep 05 14:19:10 SAST 2015

Master becomes mentor

Jakie May | 07 December, 2012 00:19
LEARNING TOGETHER: William Kentridge and Matteo Lopez are sharing both space and ideas

THE Czech-Nederlands dancer Jirí Kylian once said: "A teacher prepares you for a profession and a mentor teaches you about life."

South African artist William Kentridge said a mentor is happy to talk with someone about the big questions.

Kentridge is working with Colom-bian artist Matteo Lopez, 33, in his studios thanks to a decade-old cultural drive, the Rolex Mentor and Protege Arts Initiative.

The programme gives young professional artists the opportunity to spend time being nurtured and guided by an older master. Kentridge is not the first South African to be involved in the initiative, but he is the first to be a mentor.

Conceptual and performance artist Nicholas Hlobo and playwright and CEO of the Baxter Theatre Centre Lara Foot have both been proteges.

Kentridge chose Lopez out of three candidates because he liked the fact that Lopez has an interest in drawing and understands the potential of the three-dimensionality of this discipline.

''In Lopez's work I saw moments of similarity and of difference," the mentor said this week.

"His drawings leap out of the page. He is somebody whose technique I wanted to watch myself. I am learning by watching Matteo".

Lopez said: ''I wanted to come here. I wanted to spend time in this environment in which Kentridge creates."

He finds Johannesburg similar to his home town, Bogota.

''It's messy. It is different but also very familiar. We deal with lots of social issues too. There are drugs, corruption."

But his work is not informed by the roughness of his city. Rather he is interested in architecture, the idea of Utopia, history and the history of drawing.

Kentridge is enjoying the process more than he thought he would: ''There are things that Matteo has been doing that are sitting in my head already.

"We are like scavengers - seeing different things and taking from them what we need; ideas or techniques - everything is up for grabs."

Kentridge says: ''Different things will come to Matteo at different stages for him."


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