The 550m-long and up to 12m high frieze, which the author called Triumphs and Laments, depicts the city’s historic victories and defeats, ranging from Romulus and Remus to Pier Paolo Pasolini, the filmmaker, writer and intellectual who was murdered outside Rome in 1975, says The Art Newspaper.
The mural was created using a particularly interesting technique: the dark silhouettes were created from layers of accumulated grime on the naturally pale travertine embankment wall by applying high-pressure water jets to giant plastic stencils, a technique better known to street art as “reverse graffiti.”
The images will be temporary, gradually fading and disappearing after three to five years as the pollution and dirt once more builds up and covers the art.
It took more than a decade to bring the idea into life.
The idea belongs to Kristin Jones, the head of Tevereterno, a non-profit organization campaigning for the cultural regeneration of the Tiber waterfront, who suggested it to Kentridge over ten years ago.
Securing permission from Rome’s municipal and regional public authorities has been “the real colossal project,” the website quotes the artist as telling the Ansa Italian news agency.
In a reciprocal gesture, Rome’s museums are paying tribute to Kentridge.
More than 80 of the artist’s preparatory works for Triumphs and Laments are on show at the Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Roma (MACRO) until October 2, including charcoal sketches first presented in the Italian pavilion at the Venice Biennale last year, unseen drawings in ink and pastel and cut-out shadow puppets that will be carried by performers at the inauguration.
The Maxxi, National Museum of the 21st Century (Museo nazionale delle arti del XXI secolo) meanwhile, is showing all six of the works it holds by Kentridge in a new show.
The project is supported by the artists’ dealers, Marian Goodman Gallery, Galleria Lia Rumma and Goodman Gallery.
William Kentridge is a South African artist well-known for his prints, drawings, and animated films.
In the inventive process by which he created his best-known works, Kentridge draws and erases with charcoal, recording his compositions at each state. He then displays a video projection of the looped images alongside their highly worked and re-worked source drawings.