William Kentridge, Walking Man (2000). Linocut on Canvas (99”x40”)
William Kentridge’s linocut titled “Walking Man” is a very large and distinguishable piece that depicts a massive figure of a distorted “man” with tree branches sprouting from where his head and arms should be. The immediate characteristic of this piece details the dark and light shades and contrasts within the piece. The organic lines in this piece add to the shades of the work through its distortion much like the figure’s distortion. The piece reads off as a critique of nature and technology as we view this large figure of a supposed man literally intertwined with nature, and at the lower right bottom you can see what appears to look like a tiny electrical tower. The size of the figure is exemplified through the vertical and diagonal line that creates a distinct shape which also compares to the vertical shape of the electric towers beneath it. The figure of the “man” is composed of mostly black contrasts with few bold white contrasts that compliment the bold light contrasts of the sky. The diagonal lines influence movement and fluidity much like the fluidity and calmness of the sky. The placidness of the scenery juxtaposed with a supposed negative critique on nature and technology creates a vivid picture of action and resistance.
The walking “man” in this piece, appears to almost walk over these electrical towers as a way to convey the anger developed towards technological advances depletes the natural environment. The distance created by the miniature figure of the electrical tower and the walking figure of nature symbolizes the spatial divide created by hierarchal powers associated with man-kind’s infringement on nature. The fact that the “man” is faceless and cannot physically convey emotion towards this idea the “man” tends to stand in for something larger like a tree, to convey the emotions portrayed.