"When looking at a Ndebele painting or murals, people get a smile of amazement on their faces... And it makes me happy as well, as I love to paint - it is in my heart and in my blood!"
Dr Esther Mahlangu is a multi-award winning visual artist, and much loved South African cultural ambassador. She was born in 1935 and has been painting since she was 10 years old.
The bold Ndebele inspired artworks for which she is globally acclaimed grace many of the world’s most respected museums, private, public and corporate collections. Many experts believe that any important Pan African Contemporary collection cannot be considered complete without including one of her works.
Whilst firmly anchored in her traditional Ndebele culture, and choosing to live in rural Mpumalanga, Dr Mahlangu continues to spend considerable time in many of the world’s largest and most modern cities collaborating with museums, art fairs, curators, celebrities and respected global brands.
She is considered a visionary and a disruptor, being the first person to reimagine traditional Ndebele design in contemporary mediums, and she has painted anything from canvas, walls, ceramic pots, sneakers and doors to cars, aeroplanes, bicycles, motorbikes and skateboard decks.
This has led her to well-known global collaborations with the likes of Rolls-Royce, BMW, Fiat, South African Airways, British Airways, John Legend, Belvedere Vodka, The Smithsonian Museum, Freshpak Rooibos, and many others.
In 2018 Dr Mahlangu was presented with two honorary doctorates, in 2019 she was appointed as Officer of Arts and Letters which is Frances highest decoration for contribution to the arts, the Department of Arts and Culture published a book in her honour and she received an award from the United Nations in Johannesburg.
In 2020 she became the first artist in the world to be commissioned to paint an artwork for the ‘gallery’ of a new Rolls-Royce Phantom that they named ‘The Mahlangu’ in her honour.
Dr Mahlangu is exclusively represented by The Melrose Gallery.