Beemer Boy For Jungle Heads by Callan Grecia
Beemer Boy For Jungle Heads by Callan Grecia
CultureIssue 3 2021Quick Read

BMW As Muse

Who can forget South African artist Dr. Esther Mahlangu’s iconic 1991 BMW 525i Sedan transformed with colour and pattern inspired by her Ndebele heritage? BMW has long supported the arts and artists. In turn, artists are also looking to the brand for inspiration.

Gusheshe by PR$DNT HONEY
Gusheshe by PR$DNT HONEY
Blue Lagoon Box Shape Romance by Callan Grecia
Blue Lagoon Box Shape Romance by Callan Grecia

Like Mahlangu, a new generation of South African artists are making work that honours their heritage. As a brand culturally rooted in the local zeitgeist for generations, BMW has found a place in these contemporary works of art that celebrate aspiration, freedom, and status. The artists share what BMW means within their artworks. 

Callan Grecia | Beemer Boy For Jungle Heads and Blue Lagoon Box Shape Romance

The idea of wish fulfillment is a driving force behind the majority of my paintings, and BMWs have always been an aspirational ideal for me personally. The paintings almost become a poster in a teenager’s room, something to dream about. 

BMWs are a big part of growing up Indian in Durban. The e30 325is has a cult following – we call it a Box Shape or a Gusheshe. It’s one of the cars you grow up dreaming about and you can’t help rolling down your window to have a better look if you see one on the road. 

BMWs are a big part of growing up Indian in Durban.

– Callan Grecia

Ghetto Fabulous by PR$NT HONEY
Ghetto Fabulous by PR$NT HONEY

Rendani Nemakhavhani AKA PR$DNT HONEY | Ghetto Fabulous and Gusheshe III

BMW is an OG brand in South African townships. The Gusheshe, in particular, is mostly known to be associated with people who run the streets; people who are fearless and are really cool. There’s a certain, almost unexplainable, respect that people have for those with this car brand. I particularly love the brand because even though I didn’t grow up with a BMW in our yard, it feels nostalgic for a kid like me who grew up in the township. It also reminds me of the era of TV drama Yizo-Yizo. That was an eye-opening and revolutionary time for me growing up.

Being ghetto fabulous is a mood, it’s an aesthetic, it’s a way of life, it’s a culture. In the Ghetto Fabulous body of work that I have created it speaks to the nature of the character. She’s a cool renegade who loves bad boys and drives fast cars. BMW is significant here because it speaks to her status in the community that she’s from. It’s always important for BMW to feature in the work that I do because of the legacy it holds for me within a township experience. 

Even though I didn’t grow up with a BMW in our yard, it feels nostalgic for a kid like me who grew up in the township.

Rendani Nemakhavhani

Ghetto Fabulous by PR$NT HONEY 2
Ghetto Fabulous by PR$NT HONEY

This work is about car culture, class and ideas of masculinity amongst young men who live in the Cape Flats.

– Jody Paulsen 

Jody Paulsen | 4 Spoilt Boyz

This work is about car culture, class and ideas of masculinity amongst young men who live in the Cape Flats. I used the image of an old, customised BMW that has been modified in a way that is typically found in the Cape Flats area – lowered in the front, bright colour, elaborate sound system, etc. 

I was quite intrigued by this particular car because my father drove one and I always found the proportions to be quite beautiful. I was equally mesmerised by the way young coloured men in Cape Town customised their cars. It had a resonance that spoke of class and freedom. It is not very common for young men on the Cape Flats to move out of their family home after school, therefore cars take on another meaning in their early adulthood. The sense of expression that occurs in the way these cars are obsessively personalised by their owners has manifested into a car culture with an interesting aesthetic and identity.

4 Spoilt Boyz by Jody Paulsen
4 Spoilt Boyz by Jody Paulsen

Additional artwork by Olivié Keck. 

Joy Ride by Olivié Keck
Joy Ride by Olivié Keck

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