ANC to sue South African artist over Jacob Zuma genitals painting


The president of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, looks on during the opening plenary, called Leaders Dialogue on Climate Change, of the seventh annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative on Sept. 20, 2011, in New York City.


Daniel Berehulak

South Africa’s ruling ANC has said it will go to court after a Johannesburg gallery exhibited a painting by one of the nation’s best-known artists depicting President Jacob Zuma with his genitals hanging out.

ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu said he had asked lawyers to get the Goodman Gallery to remove the $14,000, 1.85 meter-high acrylic Soviet-style painting (entitled “The Spear”) from its gallery, website and promotional materials, calling the artwork “an abuse of freedom of artistic expression” as well as “distasteful and vulgar,” according to the BBC.

Neither the Goodman Gallery nor the artist, Brett Murray, who is known for his political and provocative work, have commented on the ANC statement. The painting – which forms part of Murray’s Hail to the Thief II exhibition – has already been sold, according to IOL News.

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In an essay accompanying the exhibit, curators say the work forms “part of a vitriolic and succinct censure of bad governance and are [Murray’s] attempts to humorously expose the paucity of morals and greed within the ruling elite,” the Associated Press reports.

In 2008, two years after Zuma was cleared of raping a family friend, the cartoonist Jonathan Shapiro depicted the president with his pants down, about to rape a blindfolded female figure representing justice. A case against Shapiro is due to be heard in the fall.

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