Mahlangu’s iconic BMW 525i Art Car

April 23, 2024

Articles, Mandie's Pick

The exhibition charts Mahlangu’s contribution to contemporary art for close on seven decades. More than 100 artworks have been loaned from international and local collections, carefully curated alongside historic photographs and a short film. Also included in the exhibition is Mahlangu’s BMW 525i Art Car which makes its historic return to South Africa for the first time in more than 30 years. Mahlangu became the first woman and first African to be invited to participate in the prestigious BMW Art Car Collection in 1991. This diverse collection from Mahlangu’s expansive artistic output offers a comprehensive insight into her vibrant career. 

Recounting how her artistic journey began, Esther Mahlangu often tells the story of being trained by her grandmother and mother in the early 1940s. She would draw on the front of the house and then be told rather to draw on the back walls until her drawings got better and better and finally, she was asked to come back to the front, “Then I knew I was good at painting.” The retrospective exhibition draws its inspiration from Esther Mahlangu’s own discovery of her extraordinary talent as a young girl of just 10 years old.  

Esther Mahlangu
Esther Mahlangu, Photograph by Clint Strydom

“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 colourful story with you on my Retrospective Exhibition.”, Dr Esther Mahlangu.

The exhibition is on view at Iziko SANG until 11th August 2024 after which it will travel to the Wits Art Museum in Johannesburg later in the year before moving to the United States by early 2026.