Ndebele Commission at the VMFA

Ndebele Commission at the VMFA
In May 2014, when Richard Woodward boarded a plane for a 14-hour flight to South Africa, his long-shot idea was moving closer to probability.  Woodward, curator of African art at the Virginia Museum of Fine Art (VMFA), envisioned Ndebele murals being created at the Richmond museum by the foremost Ndebele artist, herself.  The Ndebele women of South Africa are noted for the striking, geometric designs they paint on their houses and compound walls.  And one of them, Esther Mahlangu (b. 1935), became renowned in the early 1990s when she painted a Ndebele design on a new BMW.  One extraordinary aspect of this precise, hard-edge painting is that it is created without the use of any measuring or straight edge devices. It's an art of unwavering coordination of eye, mind and hand.   Woodward's fantastic notion for a live Ndebele commission on his turf …