Postcard from Puebla, Mexico: Fortunate to encounter Kentridge’s multimedia exhibition

As a guiding principle, Kentridge embraces the notion of fortuna, which he describes as something other than cold statistical chance, yet something outside the range of rational control. In other words, we might understand this as a kind of directed happenstance, or the engineering of luck, wherein there is possibility and pre-determination. Fortuna alludes to a state of becoming wherein the work of art is endlessly under construction — even when encountered as a finished product by the viewer.

Lilian Tone,

While we were in Puebla, a floor of Museo Amparo was devoted to “Fortuna,” a huge retrospective exhibition of work by William Kentridge. Born in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1955, the artist appears unsure of what he wanted to be when he grew up. Studying first politics and history, then theatre, then art until scrambling aspects of all of them into films.

Kentridge’s charcoal works are as politically potent as those of Goya. His simple tribute after the death of his wife – “Her Absence Filled the World” – seems to unleash a gallery-filling howl of mourning.

We visited “Fortuna” twice, fascinated by Kentridge’s videos, sometimes incorporating his charcoal drawings in progress and/or the reverse and sometimes focusing on personal autobiographical interactions of him with himself. Life-size projections brought him pacing into the room with you (the Mister in the above photos), even though many were in black and white.

Below are two brief snippets plucked from the exhibition:

Really recommend making time for viewing this documentary, William Kentridge: How We Make Sense of the World. The thought process governing his artistic process is wonderful to watch unfold.

Postcard from Puebla, Mexico: Up on the Rooftop

A prerequisite for wandering the streets of Puebla should be to climb up to the rooftop of the Museo Amparo the first day. Streets are crowded, and there are too many distractions and too few viewsheds to really appreciate the cross-topped towers and domes dominating the skyline of the historic center.

The rooftop view completely alters your impression of both the city’s architecture and its setting. Here you can glimpse the tilework covering church domes in every direction from so many different vantage points.

Although the museum is housed in two colonial buildings, a major re-do completed in January 2013 gave the interiors a contemporary update.

And, about that rooftop. In an interview by Eva Bjerring for, Enrique Norten of TEN Arquitectos explains:

The client, the Amparo Foundation, wanted to increase the Museum’s exhibit capacity and its square footage without destroying the old construction. With a limited site, the only option to grow was by re-using the existing patios and taking advantage of the 5th façade, the roof terrace.

And take advantage they did. Bjerring writes:

…the views from the roof terrace connect the museum to the city context, both in choice of material, references to local history and by access to an extraordinary view of Puebla’s old church domes, towers and landscapes. This unique view hasn’t been exploited previously in any other part of the city. Even in bad weather the refined extension into the skyline leaves the visitor with a feel of close connection to the buzzing colonial hub.

Coffee and cocktails can be had inside the glass-walled café or outside on the extensive terrace. And have no idea why we did not make it back to view a sunset and nighttime illumination of the domes.