BMW Sees African Facelift For Charity

Almost a perfect 25 years ago to the day, South African artist Esther Mahlangu was the first woman in the world to ever create artwork for the BMW 525i car. Adorned with bright colours and unique ornamental shapes that are typical to African tradition - specifically the Ndebele movement - BMW saw the exercise successful on many levels, and even have a whole branch of BMW Art Cars. Collaborating once more, it is now the 7 Series that is seeing an African makeover.

A dynamic work of art, the BMW car has seen it's real wood interior trims be painted with Mahlangu's characteristic motifs. Facilitated by the individual Manufaktur division, the artwork was created by developing a special white-coloured wood trim that was then painted with Mahlangu's artwork before being sealed on the surface to ensure longevity and easy installation into the car. One of a kind in the face of BMW and also car manufacturing in general, the car will be on show at the Frieze Art Fair in London (England) between 6th to 9th October 2016. On offer in a silent auction where the highest bidder takes all, the sale's proceeds will be 100% donated to the charitable art project The Art Room.

As Mahlangu explains about herself, " 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 it 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 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."

Born in 1935, Mahlangu began to paint under the guidance of her mother and grandmother at the tender age of 10. Where tradition sees Ndebele women decorate the exterior walls of everyone's home with elaborate African patterns to symbolise family celebrations and tribe victories, such canvasses are actively used as a dynamic communicative medium within every community, and it is such domestic artwork that gives rise to the decorative archetype we all associate with Africa.

Discover more about this project online at

Photography credit : Artcar

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