Conversations in Letters and Lines | The Fruitmarket Gallery

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William Kentridge and Vivienne Koorland
The Fruitmarket Gallery, 45 Market Street, Edinburgh
Running from November 19 – February 19, 2017
Open Mon–Sat 11am–6pm, Sun 12–5pm

The Fruitmarket Gallery’s latest exhibition showcases South Africa’s two best-known visual artists, William Kentridge and Vivienne Koorland. The result of ver forty years of artistic co-operation and friendships, “Conversations in Letters and Lines,” brings together Kentridge’s animated films, hand drawn in charcoal and presented in specially created soundproof rooms, and Koorland’s large scale pieces created from found material ranging from book pages to burlap sackcloth. The two artists are distinct in their styles and mediums yet the exhibition works beautifully, with both artist’s pieces working together harmoniously.

The first image that a visitor to the gallery will be presented with a huge map of linen and burlap, painted with oil and stitched with twine. This is Koorland’s “PAYS ICONNU,” and its impressive scale sets the tone and scope for the rest of the exhibition. In the same space, two of Kentridge’s animated films are playing in a soundproof room, “Felix in Exile” and “Other Faces.” It would be impossible to do these films justice in a written description and I can only recommend a visit to the gallery and the exhibition to see them yourself.

The exhibition continues upstairs with a wide range of piece of Koorland’s, each just as strange and intriguing as the last. The hieroglyphics and the muted tones of the piece raise many questions but are incredibly satisfying to observe and browse through. Also upstairs is another of Kentridge’s films plays, “Notes on a Model Opera,” featuring actors as opposed to animation, in a special room with only four chairs and three screens, one on each wall. From the chairs, you must turn your head in order to see the screens on the left and right. This constant movement and the fantastic imagery onscreen creates an intense atmosphere and I was certainly disappointed when the film eventually ended.

Once again, the Fruitmarket Gallery shows off the flexibility of their spaces with the screening rooms appearing from nowhere and with the ability to display such large pieces with ease. It is a wonderful exhibition and my words certainly cannot evoke the same feelings one feels when walking around the exhibition. “Conversations in Letters and Lines” runs until early February so there is no excuse not to get down to the Fruimarket Gallery and visit this remarkable exhibition.

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