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World Tour for 88-year-old cultural icon kicks off with Cape Town retrospective

BOLD strokes and visually compelling patterns seamlessly fusing traditional African art and contemporary art have transformed the walls of the Iziko South African National Gallery in Cape Town – both inside and out – with the opening of a retrospective exhibition featuring a South African legend: 88-year-old Esther Mahlangu.

The exhibition, dubbed “Then I Knew I Was Good at Painting”: Esther Mahlangu, A Retrospective, summarises a career spanning five decades, showcasing her style that blends the rich heritage of Ndebele culture with modern art.

“The retrospective pays homage to Esther Mahlangu’s unique approach to art, which intersects African cultures with modernity and the contemporary. The exhibition celebrates Mahlangu’s voice, agency, and pioneering spirit, symbolizing her self-enunciation, self-determination and creativity,” explained Johannesburg-based curator Nontobeko Ntombela.

Ntombela works as a lecturer at the Wits School of Arts. She explained that the exhibition summarises the passion, innovation, and resilience Mahlangu’s journey has had from when she was 10 years old to date.

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