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Esther Mahlangu designs unique interior of the BMW luxury Sedan


Esther Mahlangu admiring her painting in the BMW 525i Sedan. Courtesy of AG BMW.Esther Mahlangu admiring her painting in the BMW 525i Sedan. Courtesy of AG BMW.


25 years ago, Esther Mahlangu, a South African artist, was the first woman to create artwork on a BMW 525i Sedan. Its bodywork was adorned with the bright colours and unique ornamental shapes, typical of Ndebele art, thus turning it into a BMW Art Car. Esther Mahlangu’s now, for the second time, joined forces with BMW Individual Manufaktur, Mahlangu transformed a luxury Sedan into a dynamic work of art by painting her characteristic motifs on the real wood interior trims.

To facilitate the creative process specialists at BMW Individual Manufaktur oversaw the full manufacturing process. They developed a special white-coloured fine-wood trim to be painted with Esther’s images before sealing them to ensure their longevity  and installing them within the equally remarkable vehicle. The one-of-a-kind automobile was shown to the public for the first time at this year’s Frieze Art Fair, in Regent’s Park, London.

The 81-year-old artist said: “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 colours have changed and I have painted on many different surfaces and objects but I still love to paint. The patterns I have used on the BMW parts marry tradition to the essence of BMW. When BMW sent me the panels to paint, I could see the design in my head and I just wanted to get started! I start by painting the small ones first to get the feel of the surface and then it was easy as the design follows the lines of the panels. 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 full of joy when BMW asked me again to paint for them.”


The BMW 7 series interior. Courtesy of AG BMW.The BMW 7 series interior. Courtesy of AG BMW.


Dr Ian Robertson, Member of the Board of the BMW AG, explained: “Within the framework of the long-term partnership with Frieze and Frieze Masters, we are combining our cultural engagement with BMW Individual for the very first time. I am delighted that we have been able to work again with Esther.

Mahlangu is an exceptional artist and someone I remember well from my times 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.”


Esther Mahlangu's Home. Photographer: Fred de Jager.Esther Mahlangu’s Home. Photographer: Fred de Jager.


FEATURED IMAGE: Esther Mahlangu, Untitled, 2014. Acrylic on canvas, 80x119cm. Courtesy of 34FineArt.

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