Supplied by 34FineArt:
Following a hectic and productive 2015, during which she was overwhelmed with a wave of international press acknowledgment, Esther Mahlangu’s 2016 calendar is fast running out of space. Now as busy as ever, the octogenarian is still finding the time to support the causes which matter to her.
To begin with Esther made several trips to America this year to kick off the 2016 Belvedere Vodka campaign, alongside Brand Ambassador John Legend (Belvedere) RED. To bring the core values of security, change, support, and unity of the campaign to life, Belvedere and Mahlangu worked in collaboration to design a label in typical colourful Ndebele style. For every limited edition bottle sold, 50 percent of profits will be donated to the Global Fund to fight and eliminate HIV/AIDS.
Esther has also been working with BMW Germany who has initiated another exciting car project. It has been 25 years since Esther (1991) painted the BMW for their legendary Art Car Collection. The resulting commission, in which she painted the interior panels of one of BMW’s new luxury 7 Series cars, is to be shown at FRIEZE London, 2016 6 – 9 October. After two months of painting in her home town, resulting in a striking collaboration between high art and technology, the panels were sent back to Munich and assembled into a special 7 Series BMW. During the complicated process, 34FineArt played a vital role with communications, logistics as well as handling the overwhelming local and international media interest in the project. An accompanying exhibition to the car at FRIEZE Art Fair has also been curated by 34FineArt, to provide context for her collaborative endeavors. Esther will be traveling to London on the invitation of BMW Germany during this prestigious event, and will attend three events organised by BMW/FRIEZE. The newly painted car will be unveiled and sold to the highest bidder at FRIEZE and all proceeds are to be donated to the Art Room Charity, which aims to assist 5-16 year olds who are experiencing emotional and behavioural difficulties. There are currently eight Art Rooms in schools in Oxfordshire, London, and Edinburgh, offering art therapy to improve children’s self-esteem, self-confidence, and independence – a perfect match for Esther’s passion for education and art training. She is an educator in her home community, where young adults can learn how to paint in the traditional Ndebele style.
A second major event on the British calendar is The British Museum’s exhibition South Africa: the art of a nation ( 27 October – 26 Feb 2017 ). The exhibition will feature a range of art from throughout the country’s history, telling a story that stretches back over 100,000 years. From rock art made by the country’s earliest inhabitants to works by South African artists at the forefront of contemporary art, the exhibition features objects which illustrate South Africa’s rich cultural history. Esther’s BMW from the Art Cars collection (1991) takes centre stage in this exhibition, and the Museum will also launch a range of merchandise with Esther’s famous designs during the opening of the exhibition on the 27th October. These will be available from the Museum shop and part of the sales will assist the ongoing running of the Museum. A limited number of unique handmade articles by Esther will also be for sale and the remaining limited edition serigraph, which was released to coincide with her 80th birthday in 2015, will also be exclusively available from the Museum shop.
Although Esther’s work has been featured in numerous group exhibitions in London in the past, this will be her first visit to the UK. In celebration of this she has been preparing a new body of work, some of which will be incorporated in the new BMW display at FRIEZE.
Image: Esther Mahlangu in front of her house in Weltevrede, Mpumalanga: Seagram Pearce BMW AG