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Dr Esther Mahlangu unveils the ‘Mahlangu’ Rolls-Royce Phantom at The Melrose Gallery

Rolls-Royce meets Ndebele brilliance: South Africa’s renowned creative artist, Dr Esther Mahlangu will unveil the ‘Mahlangu’ Rolls-Royce Phantom at The Melrose Gallery in Cape Town. She becomes the first South African artist to have been commissioned to create a painting for the ‘Gallery’ inside a new Phantom



South Africa’s celebrated creative artist, Dr Esther Mahlangu will unveil the ‘Mahlangu’ Rolls-Royce Phantom at The Melrose Gallery at One&Only Cape Town. The immensely talented Mahlangu beautifully harnesses her Ndebele heritage to create remarkable art.

She is the first South African artist to be commissioned to create a painting for the ‘Gallery’ inside a new Phantom. According to  The Melrose Gallery, this exquisite car will be on display from 13 to 16 Feb 2020, and photos will follow after the unveiling.

The Melrose Gallery is a leading Pan African contemporary space located in Johannesburg and Cape Town. Promoting African culture and traditions, the gallery has become a favourite space for many African artists, and collectors, where their creative practices are represented and celebrated in contemporary ways.

The collaborative nature of Dr Mahlangu’s latest project, adoption and appreciation of African (Ndebele) artwork, marks a triumph for inclusivity, pride and celebration of African cultures and heritage.


The Melrose Gallery (Cape Town) is also hosting a solo exhibition entitled ‘Disrupting Patterns’,  a selection of Dr Mahlangu’s paintings. The exhibition runs from 13 February to 31 March 2020. 

Commenting on Dr Mahlangu’s work, The Melrose Gallery said: “Her artworks are geometric, modern and abstract in nature speaking to the natural order and balance inherent in sacred geometry and all things”.

“Known as a ‘disruptor’ from an early age, Mam Esther as she is affectionately known, was the first person to reimagine traditional Ndebele house painting onto contemporary platforms,” The Gallery noted.

Ester Mahlangu doing Ndebele culture paintings. Photo: LubabaloD/ Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

Mahlangu’s work has been said to transcend disciplines, from pop art to graphic design. She imagines her compositions without the help of preliminary drawings, and, with superhuman precision and only using a delicate chicken feather as her brush, she creates patterns using paint that echo Ndebele beadwork, then adds swathes of rich colour.

Collaboration with BMW

Gogo Mahlangu has worked with many global brands over the years. Among her notable feats is her collaboration with BMW, creating amazing artwork for the brand’s 7 Series in 2016.  She transformed the interior of the luxury BMW sedan into a dynamic work of art by painting her characteristic motifs on the real wood interior trims.


This was the second time that the prominent artist joined forces with BMW, having first collaborated with BMW 25 years earlier on an Art Car project. In 1991 Mahlangu became the first woman to create artwork on a BMW 525i Sedan, based on her Ndebele heritage.

Born in Mpumalanga province of South Africa, Mahlangu started painting when she was a young girl, learning the Ndebele cultural tradition of painting and decorating houses from her mother and grandmother. The 84 year-old artist started exhibiting on the international scene in 1989  and she has gained international recognition for her remarkable art and talent.