Retrospective of pioneering South African artist Esther Mahlangu with her BMW Art Car on view

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CAPE TOWN, South Africa, Feb. 15, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — The Iziko Museums of South Africa and BMW are pleased to present “Then I Knew I Was Good at Painting”: Esther Mahlangu. A Retrospective. The exhibition, curated by Nontobeko Ntombela, highlights Esther Mahlangu’s over 50-year long career and her rise as a contemporary artist, earning her global acclaim. The retrospective will be on view at Iziko South African National Gallery from February 18 until August 11, 2024. From there it will begin its global tour, stopping first at the Wits Art Museum in Johannesburg, South Africa, before moving to the United States in early 2026.

Mahlangu became the first African and woman to paint a BMW Art Car in 1991. This collaboration marked a significant moment in the art world, blending African art with contemporary automotive design. Included in this exhibition will be Mahlangu’s BMW 525i Art Car, returning to South Africa for the first time in over 30 years. The artist has been also recently selected to participate in the 60th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, curated by Adriano Pedrosa.

“Mahlangu’s journey is a testament to passion, innovation, and resilience,” Curator Nontobeko Ntombela remarks. “The retrospective pays homage to Esther Mahlangu’s unique approach to art, which intersects African cultures with modernity and the contemporary. The exhibition celebrates Mahlangu’s voice, agency, and pioneering spirit, symbolising her self-enunciation, self-determination and creativity,” she says. Through the language of colour and form, the exhibition charts Mahlangu’s contribution to contemporary art close to seven decades. More than 100 artworks have been gathered from global collections. They have been placed alongside historic photographs and a short film.

– Picture is available at AP –

Further information and press images can be found at:

Press contact:

Prof. Dr Thomas Girst
Head of BMW Group Cultural Engagement
Phone: +49 89 382 24753


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