C1760 Femme F(r)fiction 7

Stranieri Ovunque – Foreigners Everywhere

Esther Mahlangu at Venice Biennale

We are celebrating Esther Mahlangu’s participation in this year’s Venice Biennale, “Stranieri Ovunque – Foreigners Everywhere” curated by Adriano Pedrosa, opening on April 20th to the public until November 24, 2024. we are celebrating Esther Mahlangu’s participation in this year’s Venice Biennale, “Stranieri Ovunque – Foreigners Everywhere” curated by Adriano Pedrosa, which opens to the public on April 20, 2024 until November 24, 2024.

Born on November 11, 1935 Esther Mahlangu is a prominent South African artist celebrated for her contemporary paintings that reflect her Ndebele heritage. Her art features bold and large-scale patterns inspired by the clothing and jewelry of the Ndebele people. Mahlangu’s signature style includes colorful and geometric designs with white bounded lines set diagonally or shaped like chevrons.

Unnamed (4)

Ndebele Abstract (C00886), 2018
Acrylic on canvas
120 x 120 cm
47 1/4 x 47 1/4 in

Although Mahlangu’s work remains closely tied to her traditions, she has applied her designs to a variety of objects, such as canvas, sculpture, ceramics, and even automobiles. She has collaborated with various brands like BMW, Fiat, EYTYS, Melissa’s, Beleverde, the British Museum, and Rolls-Royce.

Mahlangu gained international recognition in 1989 at the Magiciens de la terre (Magicians of the World) art exposition in France. In 1991, she was commissioned by BMW to create the first “African Art Car,” a BMW 525i painted with typical Ndebele motifs. The car was later exhibited at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, DC in 1994. Esther Mahlangu’s 1991 BMW Art Car was on view at the British Museum as part of South Africa: the art of a nation in 2017. Mahlangu’s art has also been featured on the tails of British Airways planes and on the new Fiat 500 at the Why Africa? exhibition in 2007 in Turin.

Despite her international acclaim, Mahlangu continues to live in her village, maintaining close ties to her culture. Her work is part of major private collections, such as The Contemporary African Art Collection (CAAC) of Jean Pigozzi, and is displayed in Western museums.

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