Dr. Esther Mahlangu’s solo exhibition at Investec Cape Town Art Fair 2019.
Africa’s diverse cultural heritage and dignity are uniquely celebrated by the work and life-long commitment of artist and global Ndebele cultural icon, Dr. Mahlangu. In South Africa, we embrace her as a national treasure, a wise elder and passionate, committed ambassador who has captivated the interest and imagination of the world with her gift, and her beautiful understanding of how art is central to our cultural identity as human beings.
Artist and cultural icon, Dr. Esther Mahlangu photographed by Clint Strydom, 2018. Courtesy of the Melrose Gallery.
The exhibition, ‘Timeless, Between Matter & Spirit’ is a celebration of the artist, African heritage and contemporary art from the continent. Hers has been a life commitment to personal expression and the worldwide promotion of isiNdebele IsiNthu – her culture, and the foundation of her distinct paintings.
Her life defies chronology and her talent, the conventions of the Western art world – Dr. Mahlangu has been painting for over six decades and does not see herself stopping any time soon!
“When looking at a Ndebele painting or murals, people get a smile of amazement on their faces. When they watch me paint, they can’t believe that I don’t use a ruler to paint the lines and that my hand is so steady. If people see the bright colours, they are happy. And it makes me happy as well, as I love to paint – it is in my heart and in my blood!”
– Dr. Esther Mahlangu
Animated and lively as ever, the iconic artist at 83 travels the world regularly promoting her work and educating audiences about Ndebele culture and traditions.
Dr. Mahlangu continues reimagining new expressions of the traditional patterns and motifs her work originates from and using them as a vehicle for storytelling to both capture and articulate her own insights and reflections on life and events in the world.
Thanks to the artist’s activism and promotion of her cultural traditions and its distinct form of painting the world has come to know of and appreciate the beautifully articulated symbolism and sacred geometry her work represents.
Art historians agree that the hallmark of Dr. Mahlangu’s work is the concept of infinitely modulating and recombining simple, striking, and boldly coloured geometric forms. Her artwork also reflects traditional African applications of associated mathematics and principles of symmetry, ‘Euclidean’ geometry, the unusual applications of Pythagoras’ theorem and linear perception embodied in her wall designs and paintings on canvas.
Dr. Mahlangu will open The Melrose Gallery at the One&Only, Cape Town, by launching the group exhibition ‘TIMELESS’, curated by Beathur Mgoza Baker. The captivating Pan African exhibition features work by Dr. Esther Mahlangu, Willie Bester, Paul Blomkamp, Christiaan Diedericks, Aza Mansongi, Clint Strydom, Ndabuko Ntuli, Ronald Muchatuta, and Restone Maambo. The exhibition is part of the ICTAF VIP programme and runs from 13 Feb to 30 April 2019.
Beathur Mgoza Baker is an independent art curator, writer and filmmaker.