One of South Africa’s most renowned artists, Esther Mahlangu paints vibrant geometric works based on traditional Ndebele designs.
Growing up in the Ndebele community, she honed her linework while painting houses —customarily a woman’s task. Mahlangu’s iconic abstractions drew international attention after her inclusion in the Centre Pompidou’s 1989 group exhibition “Magiciens de la Terre (Magicians of the Earth),” where she painted a replica of her house in front of visitors.
Two years later, she was the first woman and the first African artist to be commissioned to paint a BMW Art Car.
Mahlangu has also partnered with brands as varied as Belvedere, British Airways, and Rolls-Royce, and her work is in the collections of celebrities like John Legend, Oprah Winfrey, Trevor Noah, and Swizz Beatz. She still lives in South Africa’s Mpumalanga province, where she teaches Ndebele painting and beadwork to young artists.