Dr Esther Mahlangu has applied her Ndebele art to a one-of-a-kind Rolls-Royce Phantom.
Dr Esther Mahlangu has applied her Ndebele art to a one-of-a-kind Rolls-Royce Phantom.
Image: Supplied / Business Day

Rolls-Royce’s flagship, Phantom, has an interior space that spans the dash facia and is enclosed by a sheet of glass. Called the Gallery, this unprecedented feature allows owners to commission and display, within their Phantom, personal works of art. Positioned front and centre, the Gallery becomes a focal point for Phantom’s interior.

Dr Esther Mahlangu, the globally celebrated SA artist, has been commissioned by a local Rolls-Royce patron to create a work of art for the Gallery of a one-of-a-kind Phantom. The car has been named “The Mahlangu Phantom” in the artist’s honour.

César Habib, the regional director of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Middle East and Africa, said: “I am delighted to unveil ‘The Mahlangu Phantom’, a striking expression of contemporary African art. The Gallery is a unique environment for patrons of our marque to express personal and often highly creative artworks and we are indeed honoured to showcase Dr Mahlangu’s work in this Phantom’s serene interior.”

Mahlangu has devoted her life to sharing her cultural heritage through vibrant geometric abstract paintings and murals inspired by the Ndebele ethnic group. The 84-year-old is one of Africa’s most revered living artists and her works can be found in many museums, corporate and private collections around the world.

Mahlangu founded an art school at her home in Mpumalanga, where she mentors young artists in the  style of Ndebele design. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of “The Mahlangu Phantom” will be donated to the school and will be used to support a retrospective exhibition of her work and celebrate her contribution to contemporary African art.

“Dr Mahlangu has been painting the bright, geometric, abstract artworks for which she has become so globally acclaimed since she was 10 years old. We are excited to have been appointed to curate this important retrospective exhibition that will celebrate and honour Dr Mahlangu and her important contribution to contemporary African art,” says Craig Mark, director of The Melrose Gallery, Mahlangu’s global representative.

In 1991 Mahlangu provided the artwork for a BMW 525i sedan, turning it into a unique and colourful “BMW Art Car”. In 2016, she was once again commissioned by the BMW Group to decorate a 7 Series.

This article was originally published by the Business Day.

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