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Sunday, July 14, 2024

Dr Esther Mahlangu’s art showcased at SA National Gallery

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South Africa’s very own Dr Esther Mahlangu’s artwork has been displayed at the Iziko South African National Gallery in Cape Town. The exhibition covers her 50-year-long career. The globally acclaimed contemporary artist’s work will be available to the public until August this year before it begins its world tour.


The exhibition is titled: “Then I knew I was good at painting: Esther Mahlangu, a retrospective.”


Over 100 art pieces have been loaned from collections across the world, and carefully curated alongside historic photographs and a short film.The showcase includes Mahlangu’s BMW 525i Art Car, which makes its historic return to the country for the first time in over 30 years.


In 1991, Mahlangu was commissioned by BMW to create the BMW 525i Art Car. After the “Art Car” was completed, it toured the country for a year before going overseas.


“The BMW Group’s commitment to this exhibition is a testament to our respect and admiration for Dr Esther Mahlangu’s pioneering spirit and remarkable contribution to the world of art. This exhibition not only celebrates the incredible journey and legacy of Mam’ Esther but also symbolizes a cherished collaboration that dates back over three decades.” – Peter van Binsbergen, CEO of BMW Group South Africa.


Binsbergen added that BMW was especially excited about the return of the BMW Art Car to South African soil – as it is a significant symbol of our shared history and appreciation for art that transcends boundaries



Dr Esther Mahlangu with her BMW artcar at the British Museum 2016
Esther Mahlangu with her BMW artcar at the British Museum 2016. Image: Fred de Jager / 34FineArt


Exhibition Curator Nontombeka Ntombela said Mahlangu’s journey is a testament to passion, innovation, and resilience.


“The retrospective pays homage to Esther Mahlangu’s unique approach to art, which intersects African cultures with modernity and the contemporary. The exhibition celebrates Mahlangu’s voice, agency, and pioneering spirit, symbolizing her self-enunciation, selfdetermination and creativity.”


The museum added that the retrospective is a landmark achievement for South African art. It added that the exhibition recognizes Mahlangu as one of the few South African artists who have had the opportunity to present a Retrospective Exhibition in world-renowned museums.


“Painting has always been a part of me. I cannot separate it from myself, and neither would I want to. I look forward to sharing my practice and long and colourful story with you on my upcoming Retrospective Exhibition.”, Dr Esther Mahlangu.



About Dr Ester Mahlangu


Dr Esther Nostokana Nagiyana Nikwambi Mahlangu stands as a revered figure in South African contemporary art, renowned for her groundbreaking approach that transcends conventional mural artistry.


Regarded as one of the most influential artists of her era, Mahlangu embarked on her creative journey at the tender age of ten, under the guidance of her grandmother and mother, mastering the traditional techniques of isiNdebele mural painting.


Expanding beyond these roots, her contemporary creations explore a diverse array of nontraditional canvases, incorporating found objects and even automobiles, while still honoring her cultural heritage.


Mahlangu’s breakthrough came with her participation in the prestigious exhibition Magiciens de la Terre in 1989 in Paris. This brought her into the spotlight and affirmed her emergence as a leading contemporary artist with a distinct voice.


Her works are represented in over 27 public institutions’ collections, and she has been collected by private individuals worldwide. Mahlangu is the recipient of numerous honorary doctorates for her contribution to art.


Dr Esther Mahlangu


The celebration of the life and art of Dr Esther Mahlangu will be available at the Iziko South African National Gallery and open to the general public from February 18 – August 11, 2024.

Danielle Mentoor
Danielle Mentoor
Danielle is Smile FM's PM drive news reader. She has been in the radio industry since 2020 and started her career at a community radio station. When she's not keeping you up to date with the latest news, she's exploring the outdoors.

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