Dr Esther Mahlangu, is set to showcase her remarkable talent in her upcoming retrospective exhibition titled “Then I Knew, I Was Good At Painting.” The exhibition which will be open to the public from February 18th to August 11th, 2024 will be held at Iziko South African National Gallery.
Born in 1935 in Middleburg, Mpumalanga, Dr Mahlangu was introduced to the art of Ndebele design and house painting at an early age by her mother and grandmother, as per the rich traditions of her culture. However, her innate creativity and disruptive spirit led to her to paint over the wall paintings of her elders, much to their disapproval.
Dr. Mahlangu’s groundbreaking contribution to Ndebele design lies in her ability to reimagine it on contemporary mediums. She has painted on a diverse range of objects, including planes, cars, motorbikes, bicycles, pots, canvas, walls, mannequins, and even war helmets.
One of her most notable achievements came in 1991, when Dr. Mahlangu became the first African and first woman to be invited to participate in the prestigious BMW Art Car Collection.
This collection has featured renowned artists such as Andy Warhol, David Hockney, Roy Lichtenstein, and Frank Stella. Her collaboration with BMW was just one of many high-profile projects she has undertaken throughout her career.
Dr. Mahlangu’s artistic endeavors have extended beyond the realm of traditional art, as she has collaborated with various organizations and brands to raise awareness and funds for important causes.
Her partnerships include working with John Legend and Belvedere Vodka to support the fight against HIV in Africa, as well as collaborations with Rolls-Royce, Fiat, British Airways, South African Airways, Eytys Sneakers for Paris Fashion Week, and Freshpak Rooibos, among many others.