The Making of Kagiso Patrick Mautloa’s Urban Mask

Kagiso Patrick Mautloa’s woodcut project, Urban Mask, was begun in late 2016 and was completed over a year. The final work consists of 15 multi-layer woodcut prints, each drawn from the masks that Mautloa creates out of detritus he collects on the streets of Johannesburg, around his studio at the Bag Factory in Newtown. The colour selection for the woodcuts, differing from the mask sculptures, was inspired by Mautloa’s newer work in painting and drawing. Thus, the series creates links between his two- and three-dimensional work.

To create each print, an image of a mask was manipulated and deconstructed into layers to be reinterpreted into the relief medium. Each print layer was then traced onto a separate woodblock using pigment paper made in the studio. Each block was then carved by hand.

In the meantime, a team was assigned to create the substrates – a labour-intensive process involving pasting together layers of 100% cotton using wheat starch paste. Overall, more than 200 substrates were made in different sizes to accommodate the works’ printing, which includes proofing and editioning.

The blocks were then inked by hand using a brayer and printed onto the substrates. Each substrate was printed successively with the different layers making up each image, with a maximum of five layers per image.

There were many people involved in the making of this project:

Collaborating Printer – Zhané Warren
Printers – Benny Buckle and Janet Mbirimi, with assistance from Kate Arthur and Rupert Green
Over the months, the carving team included the Warren Editions staff, as well as interns Kerry Lee Chambers, Stella Hertantyo, Georgina Berens, Casey Driver, Michal Kruger, Geena Wilkinson, Samantha Matthews, Nora Kovacs, Kylie Wentzel & Inga Somdyala.

Below are some images showing the making of the work.
To view the prints and pricing, click here.


Kagiso Patrick Mautloa, Woodcut, Prints
Kagiso Patrick Mautloa and Benny Buckle. A selection of prints is laid out and waiting to be reviewed and signed off for editioning.


Kagiso Patrick Mautloa Woodcut Prints
A selection of prints hanging up in the project space.


Kagiso Patrick Mautloa, Woodcut, PrintsKagiso Patrick Mautloa, Woodcut, PrintsKagiso Patrick Mautloa, Woodcut, Prints Kagiso Patrick Mautloa, Woodcut, Prints
Benny Buckle and Janet Mbirimi are reviewing the colour of a proof that has just been printed.


Kagiso Patrick Mautloa Woodcut Prints
Benny ironing substrates, getting them ready for laminating with wheat starch paste.


Kagiso Patrick Mautloa Woodcut Prints
A selection of proofs pinned up in the studio, plus a makeshift mask made by someone in the studio for a bit of fun out of a polycan and takeaway coffee cups.


Kagiso Patrick Mautloa, Urban Mask, Sculpture
An installation of the mask sculptures at 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair in London. The Urban Mask prints are designed to be installed as a group, echoing the presentation of the sculptures.