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Dr Esther Mahlangu

Artist 20

Esther Mahlangu

Ndebele inspired art



Dr Esther Mahlangu is a South African artist from the Ndebele nation. She is known for her bold large-scale contemporary paintings that reference her Ndebele heritage. Dr Esther Mahlangu was conferred with an honourary doctorate.


She follows a local tradition through which this particular type of painting technique is handed down in the family, communicated, learned and transmitted only by women (in the past).




The art Esther Mahlangu highlights the tension between local and global, between the anchor and detachment. Despite continuing to use the same "artistic vocabulary" closely tied to her traditions.



Mahlangu has applied the designs to various objects including canvas, sculpture, ceramics, automobiles and airplanes. She has also collaborated with various brands like BMW, Fiat, EYTYS, Melissa's, Beleverde and the British Museum.



As the work of Mahlangu suggests, "tradition" is a mobile field, future-oriented and ready to incorporate diverse stimuli.


Her art reflects her roots and how she confronts a global world with pride in who she is. Her beadwork is very intricate and her paintings and murals are seen worldwide.

The history of Ndebele art is filled with political and social commentary opposed against colonization and personal expression. It’s a unique part of South Africa culture and Mahlangu’s work is a celebration.





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