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Almine Rech

Dr. Esther Mahlangu Where two rivers meet

Apr 20 — May 20, 2023 | London

“I love art. It is part of me and I can’t separate it from who I am…but making art is not a job to me, it is a major part of who I am and I will continue to paint as long as I am able.” — Esther Mahlangu.1

Art was a calling from a very young age for the artist. Even when Mahlangu was too young to be painting walls — the exclusive privilege of married Ndebele women — she defied traditions and was eventually granted the freedom to continue. “At ten years old, she used to watch her mother and grandmother painting their house. Longing to join them, when they took a break from painting, she would try her luck without their knowledge. But when they returned, they scolded her telling her never to do that again as her lines were skewed. ‘Every single afternoon when they went to have a nap, I’d try to paint. I got into trouble every day until eventually they realized that in my heart I wanted to paint.’ Gradually her mother and grandmother granted her a small space at the back of the house to paint, with daily inspections, and as her artwork improved, she was allowed to paint the front of the house.”2

[1] “5 life lessons we’ve learnt from Esther Mahlangu” by S Mag, Sowetan Live – 20 November 2021.
[2] Y-Jean Mun-Delsalle, “Esther Mahlangu, One of South Africa's Most Famous Artists, Perpetuates Traditional Ndebele Painting” - FORBES, 7 June 2019. 

Press release

  • read or download in English

Selected artworks

  • Dr. Esther Mahlangu,                                      Ndebele Abstract, 2022

    Dr. Esther Mahlangu Ndebele Abstract, 2022

    Acrylic on canvas
    180 cm diameter
    70 in diameter

  • Dr. Esther Mahlangu,                                      Ndebele Abstract, 2010

    Dr. Esther Mahlangu Ndebele Abstract, 2010

    Acrylic on canvas

    69.5 x 83 cm
    27 1/2 x 32 1/2 in

  • Dr. Esther Mahlangu,                                      Ndebele Abstract, 2011

    Dr. Esther Mahlangu Ndebele Abstract, 2011

    Acrylic on canvas

    78 x 87 cm
    30 1/2 x 34 1/2 in