Forces of Ambition
Mandla Mavengere is a Johannesburg-based multidimensional visual artist, whose works speak to the diversity and inequalities of labour, the hardships of migration and the monetary value of goods and services rendered. In 2021 he and David Krut Workshop printer Sbongiseni Khulu collaborated on a body of oil-based monotypes on paper. Included in some of Mavengere’s works are chine collé and collage elements created by printing his signature hand carved “Gondruala” linocut bank notes onto paper that is adhered to the works in the printing process.
A study of people who migrate and the ambitions that drive them to do it…
Mavengere depicts individuals who leave their familiar homes and territories, searching for better fortunes in larger cities and foreign countries. Often many of them temporarily place their dreams on hold to support themselves in the present and adopt any role that meets this need. His works highlight the necessity of paper in the form of his signature hand carved ‘Gondruala’ (a name derived from Gondwana) linocut bank notes, often used as backdrops for the subjects in his works. This fictitious currency stands for “the uncompromised environment of dwelling.” It also represents the hope and potential for the resource-rich continent of Africa which serves as a resource pivot to the globe, whilst the bank notes divulge stories of both success and great loss.
Leading Dreams (2022)
Oil-based monotype with chine collé
39 x 56 cm
R14 290 including VAT framed
Mandlenkosi Mavengere has the ability to capture the essence of hope and endurance in his family and the community of Africa.
The depiction of heavily loaded busses and crowds of figures communicate the perambulation of the population in search for income and better life. The portraits, with banknotes plastered on their bodies and headgear, are economically fabricated identities who are fitting into new homeland of occupation versus the home of origin. However, despite the heaviness of the subject matter in these works, the subjects themselves seem to carry their burdens with grace and nobility. The lightness of the marks that Mavengere achieves through the process of monotype print, and the richness of his chosen colour palette, infuses this series with with a sense of buzzing energy and vibrance. It effortlessly describes the atmosphere of diversity, colliding aspirations and the ceaseless locomotion of bodies in cities across Southern Africa.
“My artworks bring into conversation and discussion, the issues of migration in our contemporary society. They reflect on socio-economic migration and the shift of personal identity, whilst exploring the journey of wealth-seeking from within.”
Created through collaborative effort…
In collaboration with David Krut Workshop printer Sbongiseni Khulu, Mavengere created this series of prints in 2021 and 2022. The prints consist of multiple oil-based monotype layers with chine collé, hand working and collage. Oil-based monotypes allow for the artist to use printing inks, which hold an incredible intensity of pigment and colour. Mavengere created these prints by applying the inks onto an unarticulated plate. This plate is then sent through a press to produce a single, unique print. In addition to the images created using this technique, some of the works in this series includes chine collé and collage elements created by printing his signature hand carved “Gondruala” linocut bank notes onto paper which is adhered to the works in the printing process.
About the artist…
Mandlenkosi Mavengere was born in 1992 in Zimbabwe in Bulawayo. Mavengere’s works are predominantly a combination of printing and painting. He moved to South Africa after completing high school in Zimbabwe. It was in South Africa where he took up art as a career. This led to him being recommended for a year long internship at William Kentridge Studio in 2017. This mentorship by William Kentridge significantly developed his innovation, storytelling skills, and further exploration of the theme of migration. Mavengere’s works have since been featured in various prestigious local and international exhibitions, including locations such as France, Belgium, and Germany.
His artworks bring into conversation and discussion the issues of migration and labour relations in contemporary society. Mavengere is an accomplished printmaker, as his linocut banknotes are used prominently in his artworks. The banknote artworks are a framework within which one can observe the issues of migration with relevance to socio-economic divergence of identity and convergence of another. The directional lines in the banknotes depict the scattering of people and population displacement; the repetition of patterns symbolise the circumstantial economic system embedded to the stereotyped migrants. The linocut banknotes printed onto the fabric emphasise the constructed perambulation of the population in search for income and better life. The figures and portraits are economically fabricated identities who are fitting into a new homeland of occupation versus the home of origin.
Listen to the David Krut Podcast episode featuring Mandlenkosi Mavengere discussing this series: