‘I have been making art all my life because it
is in my heart and in my blood. When I paint I am happy. I strived to show
people from all over the world my work and to tell them my story as an artist,
an Ndebele woman artist, who against all odds travelled the world … I know that
long after I am gone, people will still go and see my paintings and they will
remember there was an artist called Esther Mahlangu, and she came from South
Africa.’ – Esther
Mahlangu (born 1935)
In 1991, to mark the end of apartheid, BMW
invited Esther Mahlangu to make a work of art in their Art Car project.
Her work, with its brightly coloured geometric shapes, draws on the traditional
house-painting designs of Ndebele people in South Africa.
Under apartheid the Ndebele were forced to
live in ethnically defined rural reserves – their designs are an expression of
cultural identity, and can be read as a form of protest against racial
segregation and marginalisation.
Mahlangu’s Art Car combines tradition and
history with contemporary art and politics, themes that are explored in our
exhibition South Africa: the art of a nation (27 October 2016 – 26
Exhibition sponsored by Betsy and Jack Ryan
Logistics partner IAG Cargo
Mahlangu (b. 1935) with the BMW Art Car 12, 1991.
Esther Mahlangu (b.
1935), BMW Art Car 12, 1991. © Esther Mahlangu. Photo © BMW Group
Flickr – Francisco Javier Garcia Orts.