BMW Celebrates Esther Mahlangu’s Artful Odyssey From Tradition to Triumph

Esther Mahlangu‘s artistic journey, spanning over half a century, is a narrative of passion, innovation, and resilience. Her retrospective exhibition, Then I Knew I Was Good at Painting: Esther Mahlangu, curated by Nontobeko Ntombela, marks a significant milestone in Mahlangu’s illustrious career.

Hosted by the Iziko Museums of South Africa and BMW, this exhibition offers a comprehensive exploration of Mahlangu’s artistry, showcasing over 100 artworks alongside historic photographs and a short film. One of the exhibition’s highlights is Mahlangu’s iconic BMW 525i Art Car, returning to South Africa after over three decades. Reflecting on her lifelong dedication to art, Mahlangu shares,

Painting has always been a part of me. I cannot separate it from myself, and neither would I want to. I look forward to sharing my practice and long and colorful story with you on my upcoming Retrospective Exhibition.”

Mahlangu’s creative journey is a testament to her unique approach to art, which seamlessly intertwines African cultures with modernity and contemporary themes. Curator Nontobeko Ntombela emphasizes Mahlangu’s significant contribution to contemporary art, stating, “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, symbolizing her self-enunciation, self-determination, and creativity.”

The retrospective exhibition not only celebrates Mahlangu’s remarkable legacy but also acknowledges her as a living legend in the realm of South African art. Dr. Bongani Ndhlovu, Acting CEO of Iziko Museums of South Africa, expresses honor in hosting this monumental showcase, recognizing Mahlangu’s enduring impact on generations of artists and her embodiment of triumph against adversity. Dr. Ndhlovu remarks, “Dr. Mahlangu is a living symbol of triumph against adversity. Her approach to art has inspired generations and is a re-affirmation of calls for Africa-centered innovations.”

For the BMW Group, supporting this exhibition is a gesture of respect and admiration for Mahlangu’s pioneering spirit. Peter van Binsbergen, CEO of BMW Group South Africa, underscores the significance of Mahlangu’s collaboration with BMW, stating, “The BMW Group’s commitment to this exhibition is a testament to our respect and admiration for Dr. Esther Mahlangu’s pioneering spirit and remarkable contribution to the world of art. This exhibition not only celebrates the incredible journey and legacy of Mam’ Esther but also symbolizes a cherished collaboration that dates back over three decades.”

In essence, the retrospective exhibition not only celebrates Esther Mahlangu’s artistic prowess but also honors her as a cultural icon whose creative journey continues to inspire and captivate audiences worldwide. The retrospective will be on view at Iziko Museums of South Africa from February 18, 2024 until August 11, 2024.

Iziko South African Museum
25 Queen Victoria St, Gardens
Cape Town, 8001
South Africa

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