Latitudes Online and Jillian Ross Print have co-published a set of new fine art prints by Cinthia Sifa Mulanga and Puleng Mongale. The prints were produced in collaboration with Steven Dixon at the University of Alberta in Edmonton using photogravure etching and direct gravure etching.
Through COVID and resultant working in isolation, the artists produced the work in their own respective studios in Johannesburg, South Africa. During the prints development, the artworks were shipped to and from South Africa for the artists feedback and input into the image development. Artist and Printer spent considerable time on video calls talking through the technical and aesthetic components of the prints to ensure the intention behind the artistic approach would match the technical strong points of the medium.
The artworks are being editioned at Jillian Ross Print in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and at The University of Alberta, Department of Art and Design, in Edmonton, Alberta.
Above photograph: preparing copper plate for photogravure process, photo taken by Amber Azcorra-Dahl
The beauty of a successful collaboration is that something is produced that the individuals would not have been able to achieve on their own. In combining their skills, magic happens. “This has been a truly collaborative project,” Lucy says. “And that’s what Latitudes is about.” For Puleng and Cinthia, it has allowed them to see their work in a new light. For Jillian Ross Print, these opportunities allow them new discoveries in printmaking. Jillian says, “It's been playful and hard work and interesting all at the same time.” - snippet from our blog post
Puleng Mongale (b. 1991) uses her vivid collages as a way to connect with her Sotho heritage. Having originally studied communications science and English at the University of South Africa, as well as pursuing copywriting at Umuzi, a creative hub based in Jeppestown, she decided to explore the art world more seriously.
Mongale's artistic expression is mostly influenced by the stories of the women in her life; women who raised her and women in her family who she has heard about but never met, such as her late great-grandmother, after whom she is named. She also draws inspiration from the black, working-class women she encounters daily in the city.
Working in digital collage, Mongale explores her identity through an internal dialogue that revolves around a re-imagined history, the establishment and maintenance of ancestral relationships, black womanhood, and re/claiming her heritage.
Mongale finds that her collage work, through self-portraiture, allows her to put together pieces of worlds she's never been a part of and worlds that she's trying to forge right now. Her imagined, photoshopped landscapes are vivid renderings of a life she yearns for. She says living in Johannesburg has always made her feel slightly displaced: “Joburg is an eclectic mix of cultures but is somehow dominated by one particular culture/language.”
Cinthia Sifa Mulanga was born in 1997 in Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of Congo. She completed her third year of training at Artist Proof Studio in 2020, graduating in printmaking and combining techniques such as intaglio, linocut, and silkscreening.
Mulanga’s work explores beauty constructs through her lived experience as an African woman. Using mixed media, she creates moments and conversations within domestic spaces, which function to challenge stereotypes and interrogate misconceptions. She currently lives and works in Johannesburg.
"My work explores beauty constructs as well as its psychological and physical impact on African women through the search of my own identity and those around me. I create moments within domestic spaces by using different mediums like acrylic with oil paint, charcoal, ink, collage from personal photographs, newspaper and magazines. Female silhouettes represent the "perfect women " perceived by society or the “absorber” that’s absorbs from social media.
The moments I create in domestic spaces are dialogues between perceived beauty standards, and stereotypes which function to both challenge and embrace African women. The Barbie doll, a primary inspiration in my work, is used with other feminine objects or symbols with associations to African women, representing thoughts, misconceptions, perceptions and emotions. These spaces allow me to create conversations and interrogate notions of beauty.”
Jillian Ross mixing inks in studio, photo taken by Amber Azcorra-Dahl
Steven Dixon preparing a copper plate for photogravure, photo taken by Amber Azcorra-Dahl
Puleng Mongale, Grounded, 2021, Photogravure etching with colour roll on Surface Gampi chine collé on Hahnemühle, Natural White, 300gsm paper, image size: 32.4cm x 46.5cm, paper size: 48.5cm x 62.5cm, Edition of 25, publisher: Latitudes Online & Jillian Ross Print, printed at Jillian Ross Print, Canada, printed by master printer Jillian Ross & Luke Johnston, plate creation: Steven Dixon, photography: Carey Shaw
"My work is mainly based on black women. This artwork portrays them as a collective; beautiful, strong, content, and assured in who they are. I deliberately went for an "old" feel (which photogravure has managed to help achieve by 10 times!) because I wanted the artwork to feel timeless and represent the never-ending presence and impact of black women." - Puleng Mongale
Jillian Ross wiping a copper plate in preparation for printing, photo taken by Amber Azcorra-Dahl
Cinthia Sifa Mulanga, Ne lave pas ton visage (do not wash your face), 2021, Direct gravure etching with Kitakata chine collé, collaged onto Hahnemühle, Natural White, 300gsm paper, image size: 30.5cm x 40.9cm, paper size. 42.5cm x 53cm, edition of 25, publisher: Latitudes Online & Jillian Ross Print, printed at Jillian Ross Print, Canada, printed by master printer Jillian Ross & Luke Johnston, plate creation: Steven Dixon, photography: Carey Shaw
Mulanga used a technique called direct gravure, a process where she drew and painted onto photographic film with charcoal, HB pencil and India Ink. The photographic film was then transferred onto a copper plate and etched, leaving the painterly image to be printed onto paper.
'This work captures an intimate moment portraying a black women draped in an almost soaked dress about to take a bath , surrounded by two artworks, one a portrait of a women from the 18th century and another of a sensual black women looking at the figure in the bathtub. I have always been interested in referencing some moments from Renaissance and Victorian eras, how the black women were positioned, what she was doing and how she was represented. Likewise almost giving a feel of those black and white beauty adverts but without the products.' - Cinthia Sifa Mulanga
Printer Luke Johnson and Master Printer Jillian Ross gluing paper pieces for chine collé, photo taken by Amber Azcorra-Dahl
Collage pieces for Cinthia’s direct gravure prints, printed on Kitakata paper, 36 gsm
Jillian Ross and Luke Johanson mixing glue and talking through next steps in the project, photo taken by Amber Azcorra-Dahl
Further Reading In Articles
African Artist Directory