This week, we had the privilege of attending the 2023 Transformation Days, a remarkable event in South Africa that focuses on sustainability, corporate social responsibilities, and community engagement. Among the many captivating topics discussed during the event, one exceptional exhibit stood out – a unique BMW 7 Series Individual, transformed into a dynamic work of art by the celebrated South African artist Esther Mahlangu.
Esther Mahlangu: A Pioneer in BMW Art Cars
Esther Mahlangu first made waves in the art world 33 years ago when she became the first woman to create artwork on a BMW, specifically a 525i Sedan. Her artistic genius graced the vehicle’s bodywork with the vivid colors and distinctive ornamental shapes synonymous with Ndebele art, effectively transforming it into a BMW Art Car. In 2017, for the second time, Esther Mahlangu joined forces with BMW to work her magic on a BMW 7 Series, and the results are nothing short of breathtaking.
In a collaborative effort with the BMW Individual Manufaktur, Mahlangu has turned this luxury sedan into a dynamic masterpiece by adorning the real wood interior trims with her characteristic motifs. The folks at BMW Individual developed a special white-colored fine-wood trim, which Esther Mahlangu then painted with her unique images. These works of art were sealed to ensure their longevity before being skillfully integrated into the vehicle.
The Creative Process: Esther Mahlangu’s Unique Artwork
The BMW 750Li Individual by Esther Mahlangu is a right-hand drive vehicle featuring an array of equipment from the comprehensive BMW Individual Collection. The 20-inch light alloy wheels in w-spoke styling add to the car’s elegant appearance, and the exterior bodywork is coated in BMW Individual Aventurine Red Metallic.
Craftsmanship and Culture: The BMW Individual Manufaktur
Step inside the car, and you’re enveloped in a world of luxury and artistry. The interior features BMW Individual full fine-grain Merino leather in Smoke White/Black. This exquisite leather covers the seats and is adorned with weave-look stitching and hand-woven piping. The full leather trim extends to the rear panelling of the front seats, the upper and lower instrument panel, as well as the door panels, which are covered in black Walknappa leather. A BMW Individual leather steering wheel with applications in Piano finish Black and an Alcantara headliner in Smoke White complete the exclusive ambiance of the interior.
Tradition and Innovation in South African Art
Esther Mahlangu’s story is as inspiring as her art. She was born into the Ndebele tribe in 1935 in Middelburg, a small town in the north-eastern province of Mpumalanga. Her artistic journey began at the age of 10 when she started painting under the guidance of her mother and grandmother. The Ndebele tradition involved decorating the exterior walls of houses with intricate patterns and graphic elements that symbolized important events within the community, such as weddings and celebrations. These painted walls acted as a form of active communication within the community.
Esther Mahlangu took these traditional decorations and patterns and elevated them into the realm of fine art. She incorporated them into various items used in everyday life, such as pictures, vessels, and carpets. In doing so, she breathed new life into these traditional patterns, making them accessible and appreciated in fresh contexts. It’s a testament to the enduring power of tradition and the endless possibilities when art and craftsmanship converge.
In a world where innovation and tradition often collide, Esther Mahlangu’s BMW 7 Series Individual serves as a beautiful reminder that these two realms can harmoniously coexist, creating something truly remarkable.