London

Esther Mahlangu
Born 1935 in Middelburg, Mpumalanga, South Africa
Lives and works in Middelburg, Mpumalanga, South Africa
As a young girl, Esther Mahlangu learned traditional Ndebele mural painting, which features large-scale geometric patterning rendered with extreme precision. Mahlangu still employs the techniques that she adopted at ten years old — painting her lines and shapes freehand using a chicken feather without stencils or preparatory drawings. Despite her use of traditional forms and techniques, Mahlangu is a resolutely contemporary artist. Early on, she began to translate the traditional Ndebele aesthetic into a more individualistic style. She has cited the realisation that relatively few people would view her mural paintings in her home region as the impetus to adapt her work to other settings.  She has since painted buildings in Tokyo, created cars for BMW and painted British Airways airplanes. Today, as one of the few women still adept at painting in the traditional Ndebele idiom, she remains a living link to the history of the Ndebele people, while adapting her work to a global context.
Esther Mahlangu, Ndebele Abstract, 2017, Acrylic on canvas,120x 120 cm. Courtesy of the artist’s studio.|Esther Mahlangu, Ndebele Abstract, 2017, Acrylic on canvas,120x 120 cm. Courtesy of the artist’s studio.

Artists 2022