Esther Mahlangu A Life in Color

Thomas Girst, Azu Nwagbogu, Hans Ulrich Obrist

Esther Mahlangu: A Life in Color is a captivating exploration of the life and work of the iconic South African painter, one of the most influential artists of Pan-African Contemporary Art.

Esther Mahlangu is globally acclaimed for her bright and bold abstract paintings with vivid, geometric patterns that are rooted in South Africa’s Ndebele artistic tradition. She was a disruptor from an early age, becoming the first person to reimagine Ndebele visual artistic style—historically used for decorating houses—on painting media such as canvas, and has become a much-loved cultural ambassador of the Ndebele Nation.

Esther Mahlangu: A Life in Color celebrates Mahlangu’s remarkable journey as a pioneer of contemporary African art, whose vibrant and distinctive paintings have captured the hearts of many worldwide. Through a series of interviews with Mahlangu conducted by Hans Ulrich Obrist, Azu Nwagbogu, and Thomas Girst, readers will gain insight into her creative process, inspiration, and the cultural significance of her work. With stunning visuals and engaging narratives, this book offers an inspiring experience to the reader.


Thomas Girst


Thomas Girst studied art history, American studies, and German literature at Hamburg University and New York University. Since 2003, he is the global head of cultural engagement at the BMW Group. Girst's recent books include Art, Literature, and the Japanese American Internment; The Duchamp Dictionary; BMW Art Cars; and 100 Secrets of the Art World.

Azu Nwagbogu


Azu Nwagbogu is a curator, writer, and art collector. He is the founder and director of the African Artists' Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting African art and artists. Nwagbogu was formerly elected as the director of the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art in South Africa. He is also the founder of the Lagos Photo Festival, an annual international photography festival held in Lagos, Nigeria.

Hans Ulrich Obrist


Hans Ulrich Obrist is Artistic Director at Serpentine in London and Senior Advisor at LUMA Arles. Prior to this, he was the Curator of the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris.