Style

Esther Mahlangu & BMW Mark 25th Anniversary of Their Iconic Collab With Another BMW Art Car Overhaul

The 81-year-old Ndebele visual artist decked out the interior wooden trim of a plush right-hand drive BMW 7 Series.

Marking the 25th anniversary since their last iconic collaboration, South African visual artist Esther Mahlangu and BMW teamed up again—and the result is just as magical.


In similar fashion as her overhaul of a BMW 525i Sedan, Mahlangu, who was the first woman to customize and sign a BMWArt Car, decked out the interior wooden panels of a right-hand drive BMW 7 Series with her signature style, characteristic of Ndebele art painted on the outside of homes to commemorate important celebrations.

BMW Individual Manufaktur facilitated the full manufacturing process, including the installation and sealing of the special white fine-wood trim that Mahlangu adorned.

Mahlangu says of the partnership:

To paint is in my heart and it’s in my blood. The way I paint was taught to me by my mother and my grandmother. The images and colours have changed and I have painted on many different surfaces and objects but I still love to paint. The patterns I have used on the BMW parts marry tradition to the essence of BMW. When BMW sent me the panels to paint, I could see the design in my head and I just wanted to get started! I start by painting the small ones first to get the feel of the surface and then it was easy as the design follows the lines of the panels. My art has taken me all over the world and I have seen many places, I have painted many walls and objects and my work is in many museums but I am still Esther Mahlangu from Mpumalanga in South Africa. My heart was full of joy when BMW asked me again to paint for them.

And the finished product has been well-received.

The 81-year-old’s masterpiece will be on display at this year’s Frieze Art Fair (October 5-9) at Regent’s Park in London, and is up for auction, which you can bid on here. Proceeds will benefit charity “The Art Room” that supports youth development.

If you’re in the UK, you can catch Mahlangu speak with Christopher Spring, curator at the British Museum, on how she combines her people's traditional art of painting with everyday objects.

To learn about the luxury vehicle’s specs before you bid, visit here.

Music

6 Samples From 'Éthiopiques' in Hip-Hop

A brief history of Ethio-jazz cultural exchange featuring songs by Nas & Damian Marley, K'naan, Madlib and more.

This article was originally published on OkayAfrica in March, 2017. We're republishing it here for our Crossroads series.

It's 2000 something. I'm holed up in my bedroom searching for samples to chop up on Fruity Loops. While deep into the free-market jungle of Amazon's suggested music section, I stumble across a compilation of Ethiopian music with faded pictures of nine guys jamming in white suit jackets. I press play on the 30 second sample.

My mind races with the opportunities these breakbeats offered a budding beat maker. Catchy organs, swinging horns, funky guitar riffs, soulful melodies and grainy and pained vocalists swoon over love lost and gained. Sung in my mother tongue—Amharic—this was a far cry from the corny synthesizer music of the 1990s that my parents played on Saturday mornings. I could actually sample this shit.

The next day, I burn a CD and pop it into my dad's car. His eyes light up when the first notes ooze out of the speakers. “Where did you get this?" He asks puzzlingly. “The internet," I respond smiling.

In the 1970s my dad was one of thousands of high school students in Addis Ababa protesting the monarchy. The protests eventually created instability which lead to a coup d'état. The monarchy was overthrown and a Marxist styled military junta composed of low ranking officers called the Derg came to power. The new regime subsequently banned music they deemed to be counter revolutionary. When the Derg came into power, Amha Eshete, a pioneering record producer and founder of Ahma Records, fled to the US and the master recordings of his label's tracks somehow ended up in a warehouse in Greece.

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