Internationally acclaimed Esther Nikwambi Mahlangu will receive an honorary doctorate from the University of Johannesburg for “her legacy as a cultural entrepreneur, skillfully negotiating local and global worlds, and as an educator.
82 years old Esther Mahlangu is a South African artist from the Ndebele nation. She is known for her contemporary paintings that reference her Ndebele heritage.
She began painting at the age of 10, after learning the art of Ndebele homestead mural painting and beadwork from her mother and grandmother, as tradition dictates.
It all started in 1989, after her inclusion in the Magiciens de la Terre exhibition held at the Centre Pompidou in Paris. During the exhibition, “Mahlangu used acrylic paint, contrary to the traditional neutral pigments of the Ndebele craft. This step to blend tradition with modernity elevated the art and helped create the now widely recognised Ndebele contribution to contemporary art.”
Mahlangu’s work is now exhibited in museums and galleries around the world.
Mahlangu was the first commission in BMW’s collaboration with women. She painted the interior panels of a BMW Individual 7 Series.
This came 25 years after they asked her to paint their 1991 BMW Art Car.
Mahlangu will soon receive an honorary doctorate from the University of Johannesburg. The University said “as a national icon and custodian of heritage, Mahlangu has been honoured with awards and medals by government many times, and by more than one South African president, making her a stellar candidate for this latest honour.”