William Kentridge’s family fought apartheid. It influences his work today

“[Charcoal] became a medium in which to think, rather than a medium to illustrate thoughts,” says William Kentridge. Photo by Norbert Miguletz.

South African artist Wiliam Kentridge is a filmmaker, sculptor, puppeteer, and director of plays and operas. He’s best known for his charcoal illustrations and unique animation style, where he draws a picture, films it, makes changes by erasing and redrawing — much like stop-motion animation. These short films have a chaotic choppiness and sense of urgency that’s inspired by social justice and his native country’s transition from apartheid to democracy. His parents were prominent anti-apartheid activisits and attorneys who represented Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Thirty years worth of Kentridge's work has been collected for a new career-spanning exhibition at the Broad Museum in downtown LA. It’s called “William Kentridge: In Praise of Shadows” and runs through April 9.