View of the exhibition The Breath of Calligraphy at Galerie 75 Faubourg, Paris, France. Photo : Romain Darnaud. © Esther Mahlangu

Dr. Esther MahlanguThe Breath of Calligraphy

21.04 – 30.06.2023
Galerie 75 Faubourg


75 faubourg and Enrico Navarra galleries present the exhibition The Breath of Calligraphy of South African artist Dr. Esther Mahlangu, showcasing a selection of acrylics on canvas created between 2010 and 2022. These works refer to the painter’s Ndebele heritage and celebrate “the contemplation of space and colour, both abundant and accented: Africa’s calligraphy. […] She [Mahlangu] shares with us a distinctly clear tale of a lifetime, translated geometrically and colourfully into the language of art.” (Ruzy Rusike, exhibition leaflet)

Views of the exhibition The Breath of Calligraphy at Galerie 75 Faubourg, Paris, France. Photo : Romain Darnaud. © Esther Mahlangu

In the Ndebele community, the tradition of decorative mural painting is an age-old art reserved for women, with techniques passed down from mother to daughter, and done on the facades of houses during ritual ceremonies. From an early age, Esther Mahlangu learned to make pigments, to prepare the surface to be painted and to create decorative compositions mixing traditional geometric figures and invented motifs.

Dr. Mahlangu revolutionized this traditional art using new techniques. She is the first to transfer this painting practice to canvases and other contemporary mediums and has replaced natural pigments with even more vivid and contrasting acrylic paints. Using a feather, she paints freehand without prior sketching, on a variety of formats and media: canvases, walls, ceramics, cars (BMW Art Car Collection, 1991), motorcycles or sneakers (Eytys, 2015).

Photo : Clint Strydom

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