ROME – South African artist William Kentridge is best known for prints, drawings, and animated films dealing with the social injustice of apartheid in his home country. He’s also created major public artworks in multiple mediums. This year he used reverse graffiti—power-washing away soot and biological patina from a 13-meter-tall travertine embankment along the River Tiber in Rome—to reveal Triumphs and Laments. Depicting Rome’s greatest victories and defeats from mythological time to the present, the frieze contains more than 80 figures, some up to 10 meters high.
American artist Kristin Jones, who founded the nonprofit arts organization Teveretero to create a site for contemporary public art in Rome’s Piazza Tevere, invited Kentridge to participate. She called Triumphs and Laments Kentridge’s “greatest drawing ever.” Because of pollution and natural, organic growth, the 550-meter-long frieze will gradually fade over time. It’s expected to remain visible for about five years.