William Kentridge celebrates Rome’s history with a 550-metre frieze

Using reverse graffiti, William Kentridge will wash his iconic stencils along the banks of the Tiber River in Rome.

Renowned South African artist William Kentridge is known for his evocative work. Now, the artist is set to take part in what has been described as his most ambitious work to date, Triumphs and Laments: A Project for Rome. Rome’s largest public contemporary art project is an epic 550-metre frieze along the banks of the Tiber River. It will feature images of war, love, oppression and resilience - a non-chronological history of the City in all its glory and all its tragedy.

The work is part of TEVERETERNO’s establishment of Piazza Tevere: the first and largest public space for contemporary art on Rome’s urban waterfront. The non-profit organisation is dedicated to the celebration of contemporary art.

In a Kickstarter campaign launched to fund the project, TEVERETERNO explains that Kentridge’s charcoal drawings will be turned into ink drawings, and the ink drawings will be made into full-scale stencils.

The travertine embankments of Piazza Tevere will be washed around the stencils, leaving the darkened marks of pollution and organic growth on the high stone walls, to create a silhouetted procession of iconic figures. Kentridge has coined the process “reverse graffiti”, creation through erasure.

The eighty figures that make up Triumphs and Laments will be ten metres high. It will open to the public on 21 April 2016.