Does the name Esther Mahlangu ring a bell? Well, it should! She is the definition of black excellence- she is the 81-year-old South African Ndebele Woman who painted the BMW (Individual) 7 Series.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION ON ESTHER MAHLANGU
The world- renowned Ndebele artist was born in 1935 in Middelburg and learned how to paint from observing her mother and grandmother, in this video Mahlangu speaks in-depth about her humble beginnings as an artist:
Traditional Ndebele designs are distinct- they are colorful and intricate paintings which are made using a motif. The repeated geometric shapes bound by a thin black border in contrast with the white background distinguish them from other designs.
“To paint is in my heart and it’s in my blood. The way I paint was taught to me by my mother and my grandmother. The images and colors have changed and I have painted on many different surfaces and objects, but I still love to paint…. 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- the design follows the lines of the panels.”
BMW PARTNERSHIP WITH MAHLANGU
BMW is known for producing some of the world’s best masterpieces, collaborating with Mahlangu to produce a car with an authentic design was a great idea. Mahlangu is the first woman to create artwork on a BMW Sedan, the first time she did this was twenty-five years ago, in 1991, Mahlungu worked with BMW to create the BMW 525i, a masterpiece which was dubbed as the first “African Art Car.”
In 1994, her design was exhibited at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington D.C. Esther’s beautiful and unique designs have also featured internationally, on the British Airways planes and the Museum of Art and Design in New York.
When asked to describe her partnership with BMW, Mahlangu said: “My art has taken me all over the world, and I have seen many places. I have painted many walls and objects and my work is in many museums, but I am still Esther Mahlangu from Mpumalanga in South Africa. My heart was filled with joy when BMW asked me to paint for them again.”
Dr. Ian Robertson from BMW AG described the partnership with Mahlangu as a unique one. He said: “I am delighted that we have been able to work again with Esther Mahlangu, an exceptional artist and someone I remember well from my time in South Africa. Together, with experts from BMW Individual Manufaktur and BMW Group Design, Esther has created a unique work of art: a BMW Individual 7 Series that forms an extraordinary relationship between craftsmanship and Ndebele art.”
BMW UNIQUE DESIGN-THE BMW 7 SERIES INTERIOR DESIGN
The BMW designers developed a special manufacturing process that provided Mahlungu with white-colored fine-wood trim to be covered with the Ndebele designs- the designs feature around the dashboard of the car.
The vehicle’s interior features include a full fine-grain Merino leather in Smoke White or Black, high quality leather, and it also includes seats with weave-look stitching and hand-woven piping.
The BMW Individual 7 Series comes with a 3.0 litre engine and can go from 0 to 90 km/h in 5.6 seconds. It has a top speed of 249.4 km/h and a 320-horsepower engine.
The BMW 7 (Individual) Series will go on public exhibition at the Frieze Art Fair in London in October. An auction will be held in a silent bidding process and the money made from the sale will fund the Art Room- which is a charity that supports children between the ages of five to sixteen years.
HONORED WITH A MURAL IN NEW YORK
Over the past few days many South Africans have been beaming with pride, the iconic artist was honored with a street mural in New York by Imani Roberts. Robert’s mural in Tribeca, on Franklin and West Broadway, is a tribute to Mahlangu’s impact on modern art. The painting features Ndebele symbols that Roberts says are “a celebration of feminine energy.”
BMW is one of the fleet that Future Express uses, view our full fleet here.