6 Mar 2024 ///
News /// Art

Dr Esther Mahlangu’s honorary Retrospective and her latest collaboration with BMW

Few artists are as distinctly etched into South African consciousness as that of Dr Esther Mahlangu –  to call her ‘iconic’, is an understatement. As an artist and global leader in the Ndebele artistic tradition, Dr Esther Mahlangu’s style is geometric, bold and nuanced – and signature to her process, is that she has applied her style to all manner of contemporary contexts. Most notably, is the BMW 525i as part of BMW’s ‘Art Car’ Series in 1991. Dr Mahlangu became the first woman in history to participate in the legendary series, as well as the first African artist, and for over three decades, the emblematic car has travelled across the globe from Italy, to China, New York and more.

Now, the original car has returned home and is on show as part of a broad and deep exhibition titled ‘Then I Knew I Was Good at Painting”: Esther Mahlangu. A Retrospective.’, curated by Nontobeko Ntombela, who noted “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, symbolising her self-enunciation, self-determination and creativity.”

‘Then I Knew I was Good at Painting, Esther Mahlangu, A Retrospective’, now at the Iziko South African National Gallery, via @esthermahlanguart IG

Dr Esther Mahlangu at the opening of her retrospective, curated by Nontobeko Ntombela, via @esthermahlanguart IG

This is in addition to the unveiling ofDr Mahlangu’s latest collaboration with BMW: ‘the i5 Flow Ntoskana’, which was unveiled at the Frieze Art Fair in Los Angeles. As described by Car Magazine, the car is a technological feat; “the name is derived from the famed artist’s son and features BMW’s colour-change technology and 1 349 sections of E-Ink film that allow portions of the bright geometric artwork to be electronically animated. The E-Ink film, in tandem with BMW’s colour-change technology, allows the structure and arrangement of the colour particles to be changed by applying an electric voltage, effectively allowing for the patterns and colours of Dr Mahlangu’s artwork to feature constantly changing compositions.”

The celebration charts the life and successes of one of the continent’s most important artists, and one of history’s most notable creative forces. The show is on in Cape Town after which it began its global tour, stopping first at the Wits Art Museum in Johannesburg, South Africa, and then on to the United States in 2026.

The Retrospective is now showing at Iziko Museums of South Africa in Cape Town until August 11, 2024.

For more news, visit the Connect Everything Collective homepage www.ceconline.co.za

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