Artist behind iconic Ndeble-style BMW pays tribute to Madiba with latest exhibition

Esther Mahlangu. Picture Credit: BMW Group
Esther Mahlangu. Picture Credit: BMW Group

Esther Mahlangu — the first woman to adorn a BMW sedan with Ndebele paintings — will pay tribute to Nelson Mandela’s foray into the art world with her collection at Johannesburg’s Melrose Gallery.

The paintings were created by the 81-year-old Mpumalanga artist in 2004‚ where she embellished prints of drawings created by Mandela in her inimitable style.

Mahlangu will unveil the collection on March 1 to VIP guests‚ including the Mandela family.

From March 2 to April 2 the exhibition will be opened to the public.

Gallery director Craig Mark said collectors would be able to buy a set of limited edition prints of Mahlangu’s Mandela inspired artworks.

“The set of six limited edition signed prints in a special collector’s edition box with certificate signed by Dr Makaziwe Mandela launches at R60 000. They are limited to 95 sets‚” said Mark.

More than two decades ago‚ Mahlangu shot to fame when she adorned a BMW 525i sedan with bright colours and unique ornamental shapes — typical of Ndebele art — transforming it into a BMW Art Car.

Last year she again joined forces with the German car manufacturer to transform a luxury sedan into a work of art by painting her characteristic motifs on the wood interior trims of a BMW seven series.

The automobile artwork was exhibited at the Frieze Art Fair in London last year.

Back home Mahlangu is focusing on her latest exhibition.

Makaziwe‚ who heads The House of Mandela‚ said in a statement: “We are proud to be joining Esther Mahlangu to unveil her exquisite collection for the first time.

“We are certain that these artworks will work to contribute to and celebrate my father’s legacy at a time in which the world desperately needs his message of peace‚ love and respect for all.”

According to the gallery Mahlangu said the collection remained “one of the most rewarding collaborations” of her career.

The exhibition will also include several other paintings that have been recently created by Mahlangu. — TMG Digital/The Times


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