Midrand/Mpumalanga. Back in 1991 Esther Mahlangu, a South African Ndebele artist, was the first woman to create artwork on a BMW 525i sedan (below), turning it into a unique and colourful BMW Art Car.
Last year Esther was again commissioned by the BMW Group to put her unique artistic touch on a BMW 7 Series, and the vehicle was displayed at the Frieze Art Fair in London. Simultaneously, the original BMW 525i Art Car was part of the exhibition "South Africa: the art of a nation" at the British Museum, highlighting Esther’s key role in South African art.
BWW South Africa has now become the owner of Esther's specially commissioned BMW panels painted in Ndebele art which have been installed into a new BMW 750Li Individual (below). The vehicle will form part of BMW Group South Africa's Heritage Collection and will displayed at various Arts and Cultural events.
"I am so glad that BMW brought my art back to South Africa, it is a beautiful car to be shared with the people of South Africa for many years to come," says Mahlangu.
"The patterns I have used on the BMW panels marry tradition to the essence of BMW. When BMW sent me the panels to paint, I could see the design in my head and I just wanted to get started! I started by painting the small ones first to get the feel of the surface and then it was easy as the design follows the lines of the panels," she adds.
Esther was born a member of the Ndebele tribe in 1935 in Middelburg, Mpumalanga, and started painting at the age of ten under the guidance of her mother and grandmother.
Traditionally, Ndebele women decorate the exterior walls of houses with elaborately painted patterns and graphic elements, symbolising important events such as weddings or other celebrations. Esther has separated these decorations and patterns from her people's traditional art of painting. In the form of pictures, vessels or carpets, she has constantly brought it into new contexts, combining her artwork with items used in everyday life.