Happy 85th birthday to Dr Esther Mahlangu - a national South African treasure!
Photo Credit: Esther Mahlangu | Supplied

Dr Esther Mahlangu has three solo exhibitions taking place in Europe; sharing her heritage and talent with the world once again.


Europe (08 May 2023) – Dr Esther Mahlangu is a South African artist from the Ndebele nation and best known for her bold, large-scale contemporary paintings that reference her Ndebele heritage. Dr Mahlangu’s art references are found in the clothing and jewellery of the Ndebele people.

Over the years, she has become an international icon in art and proudly shown her heritage to the world. This has earned her many accolades, including being honoured three times with honorary doctorates.

The Melrose Gallery recently shared the happy news that Dr Mahlangu’s work would once again be honoured with solo exhibitions. This time, she will have three, one in London and two in Paris.

Her art and her history.

Dr Mahlangu was born on 11 November 1935 in Middelburg, Mpumalanga, South Africa, and belongs to the South Ndebele people. Mahlangu began painting at ten years of age and was taught the skill of mural painting by her mother and grandmother, following a tradition of her native South Ndebele people for females to paint the exterior of houses. It is in this cultural tradition that Mahlangu began her artistic journey.

Mahlangu first gained international attention in 1989 at a European art exposition titled Magiciens de la terre (Magicians of the World). Later in 1991, she was commissioned by BMW to create an art car, as other BMW Art Car creators had done before (including Andy Warhol, David Hockney and Frank Stella). The car, a BMW 525i, was the first “African Art Car” and was painted with typical motifs of the Ndebele tribe.

She was the first non-Western person and female to design one of these art cars.

The car was later exhibited at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, DC in 1994. Between 1980 and 1991 she was a resident at the Botshabelo open-air museum, which presents Ndebele culture to visitors.

Her designs were also reproduced in 1997 on the tails of British Airways planes and more recently the same technique was used by the artist to paint on the new Fiat 500 on the occasion of the exhibition “Why Africa?”.

Mahlangu is one of the African artists whose art is often exhibited internationally. Her works are in major private collections including that of The Contemporary African Art Collection (CAAC) of Jean Pigozzi and in many Western museums.

Her Latest Solo Exhibitions

The Melrose Gallery is collaborating with Almine Rech Paris and London, and Galerie Enrico Navarra in Paris for 3 solo exhibitions by Dr Esther Mahlangu.

The Breath of Calligraphy’
Runs until June 2
Galerie Enrico Navarra – Paris

‘Where Two Rivers Meet’
Almine Rech London, until May 20
Almine Rech Paris, until June 3

Her exhibitions are always greatly received so if you find yourself in any of these locations over the coming month, be sure to go give her some Proudly South African support.

Source: The Melrose Gallery – Newsletter
Don’t ever miss the Good Things. Download the Good Things Guy App now on Apple or Google
Have something to add to this story? Please share it in the comments or follow GoodThingsGuy on Facebook & Twitter to keep up to date with good news as it happens, or share your good news with us by clicking here or click the link below to listen to the Good Things Guy Podcast with Brent Lindeque – South Africa’s very own Good Things Guy. He’s on a mission to change what the world pays attention to, and he truly believes there’s good news around us. In the Good Things Guy podcast, you’ll meet these everyday heroes & hear their incredible stories:

Or watch an episode of Good Things TV below, a show created to offer South Africans balance in a world with what feels like constant bad news. We’re here to remind you that there are still so many good things happening in South Africa & we’ll leave you feeling a little more proudly South African.

Facebook Comments

About the Author

Tyler Leigh Vivier is a writer for Good Things Guy.

Her passion is to spread good news across South Africa with a big focus on environmental issues, animal welfare and social upliftment. Outside of Good Things Guy, she is an avid reader and lover of tea.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *