By revolutionizing the Platinum / Palladium transfer of the 19 century in his own style, Ja’bagh Kaghado
has achieved his trademark distortion which is a unique mix of photography, print making, painting,
and abstract symbolism creating assemblages which transcended their origins becoming conceptual
works of art.
His latest series ‘The Modern Day Madonna’ is inspired by the meaning of “an idealized form of women
giving life”. His works have a psychological metaphor of birth and struggle in a pseudo religious
context on a subconscious level. His new assemblages is a mixture of contemporary and the traditional,
as he fuses neon halo tubes to his distorted Platinium / Paladium hand printed images displayed
in plexi-glass boxes stressing on the sacredness of the new life. “Life is beyond our imagination once
we see such miracles.”
Obsessed with black and grey, Ja’bagh’s tones are darkly addicting and his hand-craft is perfected.
His work titled ‘My Black Madonna’ was originally an ‘Untitled’ work, a meloncholic, gothic image of a
veiled girl, more poetic in aesthetics, but through his research of Byzantine and high Renissance art
he had stumbled across an amazingly rare, black-toned icon with 2 scratches on her face and a gold
halo on top of her head, this in fact was The Black Madonna of Częstochowa. The Vierges Noires as
it is known in French is associated with miracles and attracts a substantial number of pilgrims each
year where a pilgrimage leaves Warsaw every August since 1711 for a nine-day, 225 km trek to Częstochowa.
From that discovery he then retitled his work to ‘My Black Madonna’.
The making of a Platinum / Paladium print is an art form in itself. Only very few masters remain worldwide
capable of printing with this highly elaborate technique and even fewer masters are able to
print with such size as Ja’bagh uses. Each of his print editions is executed uniquely, an unrepeatable
dialogue between the image, the chemistry and Ja’bagh’s hand printing skill.
Platinum prints are delicately rich, its tones’ range from warm black, to reddish brown, with different
shades of grey that are unobtainable in silver prints. They are exceptionally beautiful and are the most
noble and longest lasting of all photographic processes. This handcrafted printing process is far removed
from the mass produced silver-gelatin and modern digital technology.
The process was founded by English inventor William Willis in 1876 which became popular during the
19th century; and actively used by the group of photographers known as the ‘Pictorialists’. In the 1960s,
American photographer Irving Penn experimented extensively to make prints with remarkably subtle,
rich tonal ranges and luxurious textures. Photographer Horst P.Horst also printed his most iconic
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images with the platinum printing process giving his images a significantly wider range of tints and a
luxurious matte surface.
In his new exhibition Ja’bagh steers away from his open-space aesthetics, building tunnels or booths
of black textile to isolate each assemblage, creating a ‘focused attention’ by eliminating any possible
distraction and intervention from the surrounding environment such as lights, reflections and other
elements, elevating each work to an iconic verse.