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Esther Mahlangu

Esther Mahlangu
South Africa 1935-

Esther Nikwambi Mahlangu was born on 11 November 1935 on a farm located outside of, Mpumalanga, South Africa. She began painting at 10 years of age, and was taught the skill of mural painting by her mother and grandmother, following a tradition of her native Ndebele people to paint the outside of their homes with bright colors and patterns. It is in this cultural tradition where Mahlangu began her artistic journey. In 1987, French art curator Andre Magnin was doing research in South Africa and by chance happened upon their village. He was particularly taken with the house of Esther Mahlangu, sought her out, and invited her to be one of 100 artists from around the world to the exhibit at the “Magiciens de la Terre” (Magicians of the Earth) in Paris at the Centre Pompidou. The museum constructed a replica of her house for her to paint in the Ndebele style. The groundbreaking exhibition introduced non-Western contemporary art to a world audience.

By 1990, Esther Mahlangu gained international invitations to create murals in public spaces in South Africa, Europe and the United States. Her paintings have been featured by numerous Museums and on products including a British Airways plane. In 2018 she received an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Johannesburg. She is considered a national treasure, and has devoted her life to sharing her cultural heritage with the world through her vibrant, geometric and symmetrical abstract paintings and murals in the Ndebele tradition. She is still painting and continues to live in her village and spend much of her time working on community projects teaching boys and girls painting and beadwork to pass on the traditions to the next generation.

“To paint is in my heart and in my blood,” Esther Mahlangu.


Inspired by Ndebele tribal designs and the art of Esther

Mahlangu, the classes created unique and colorful interpretations in their own style. For this project we had cardstock facades and painted them with brush pens and black markers. We have not done a 3-D project for awhile so it was met with a great deal of enthusiasm .



 Week One: Cave Paintings

It has been an eventful week in our Art Literacy class. We have been all around the world.  I would like to thank all of my wonderful students for their great efforts. We began with the story of the discovery of the discovery of cave paintings in Lascaux,  France  and also looked at images from  Spain , where the oldest known cave paintings have been found,  in the cave called El Castillo. The prehistoric dots and crimson hand stencils are now the world's oldest known cave art that dates more than 40,800 years old.

© Serene Greene- Art Literacy Academy
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