Doyle Wham and Latitudes are delighted to present a solo exhibition of Puleng
Mongale (b. 1991, Orlando East, Soweto), surveying key works from the artist’s
Mongale, who currently lives and works in Johannesburg, has developed a
unique, referential style of digital collage that combines the familiar and the
surreal, the domestic and the universal. Each work is simultaneously a form of
innovative self-portraiture, with Mongale artfully inhabiting unexpected
characters and situations, from the serene to the provocative. Through this
process of self-imagining, the artist both reflects and reconstructs a
relationship with her own heritage, particularly absorbing the lineages of the
women who surround her.
The exhibition’s title, Heaven on Earth, is borrowed from the fourth and most
recent work in Mongale’s ongoing Spirit Series. This series further explores and
invokes the artist’s connection to a personal and collective past, demonstrating
the living reciprocity and significance of such visual manifestations. As is the
case throughout Mongale’s artistic practice, these works possess an
undeniable, beguiling resonance that invites the viewer to look, and look again.
The virtual exhibition has been designed in partnership with New Art City, an
artist-run platform that creates a global stage for digital art within innovative,
D: You have developed a unique style of digital collage blended with self-portraiture. We’d love to hear more about your creative process and how your surreal compositions come together?
P.M: My creative process is usually unrehearsed, I like to surrender to whatever feeling I am experiencing at the time…a feeling is usually what prompts me to create in the first place. I also like to play with fabric, the memories I have of it guide my creative process, whether I am aware of it or not. For example, if I am missing something about home and the women in my home I will automatically gravitate towards garments/clothing that remind me of them such as the seshweshwe fabric (a fabric usually worn by Sotho women). This material happens to have a unique scent, no matter how many times it has been worn or washed. The scent alone triggers a moment in my memory and makes me feel like I am existing in the actual scene, I surrender to the emotions (nostalgia) that come with it and allow my imagination to lead me. I’ll then create a digital collage to create one image or story. I prefer not to do too much planning when creating because that can often override my intuition.
D: You assume the role of many different female characters throughout your work – how do your own female ancestry and the women around you inform your art?
P.M: The women in my life (both alive and late) are my first point of reference… I have known them to be strong-willed in terms of creating the kind of life they knew they deserved, despite the oppression they faced as black women. I’ve been raised by working women, women who operated shebeens in the township, women who took care of the home and children, elegant women, traditional women, ambitious women, women with particular taste in homeware, clothing, gardening, etc. All kinds of black women. Often, black women aren’t represented holistically in the media, they’re often forced into a singular (stereotypical) narrative and I guess it became important for me to draw inspiration from the women I know because they have had a great influence on the young black woman that I am, even though the world would have me believe otherwise. The women around me inform my art through their complexity and this is something I’ve grown to appreciate.
D: The exhibition’s title, Heaven on Earth, comes from the most recent work in your ongoing Spirit Series. What was the inspiration behind this series?
P.M: The Spirit Series was created during a pandemic, a time when I felt so alone and scared about what would become of my life and career. During this time, it didn’t matter how hard I worked because so many factors affected the result, so I had to look for strength in places outside of myself and learn to lean on a higher power. I felt it was important to employ my spirituality in order to survive the uncertainty of the time we are living in. I feel like “IN THESE DISSENTING TIMES” by Alice Walker helps me to best describe the purpose of the spirit series:
“IN THESE DISSENTING TIMES
To acknowledge our ancestors means
we are aware that we did not make
ourselves, that the line stretches
all the way back, perhaps, to God; or
to Gods. We remember them because it
is an easy thing to forget: that we
are not the first to suffer,rebel,
fight,love and die. The grace with
which we embrace life, in spite of
the pain, the sorrows, is always a
measure of what has gone before.”
Opening: Thursday 11 February 2021 5pm UK | 7pm SA
Visit the exhibition online: doylewham.com/heaven-on-earth
Enter an immersive world: newart.city/show/doyle-wham
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with any enquiries.