New Zuma painting sparks fresh controversy

The ANC has called on artists to respect President Jacob Zuma and desist from portraying him in an undignified manner.

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This after another painting which depicts Zuma with exposed genitals has gone on exhibition at the AVA gallery in Cape Town. Earlier this year, the ANC forced the Goodman Gallery inJohannesburg to remove a Zuma painting by artist Brett Murray.

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ANC spokesperson, Keith Khoza, says they have heard about the latest painting by artist Ayanda Mabulu. “Any portrayal of the president in an indecent manner deserves to be condemned because it violates his rights and his dignity,” Khoza says. 

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“We believe that as a person, as father, as a husband, he deserves to be respected and is entitled to his privacy. The manner in which some people have depicted him in the name of art leaves much to be desired.”    

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Earlier on,  Mabulu said his painting “Umshini Wam”, which depicts President Zuma dancing with his genitals exposed, does not show disrespect.  

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Mabulu said the painting is meant as a question to the President as to why he is dancing while his people are suffering. Mabulu said if viewed from an African perspective, the painting is neither pornographic nor disrespectful. 

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“It can only be disrespectful when it is being looked at with a Eurocentric spectacle and according to how we engage and using the metaphors and proverbs that we use where I am coming from.

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“This is not something that is disrespectful because painting a man with his genitalia outside it simply tells it straight that we are dealing with a man. Painting a man with a circumcised penis it simply means we are dealing with a father, with a man, not a boy.”

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He also said he objected to media showing the painting with the penis hidden, saying this takes away from it being a statement and turns it into an ordinary portrait.

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 The painting portrays Zuma dancing in traditional Zulu garb, with his right leg lifted, exposing his manhood. The Gallery says the artworks depicted in its “our Father” exhibition are aimed at facilitating conversation about fathers.

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One of the curators, Kirsty Cockerill says while they realise that some of the paintings could be controversial, all were chosen on merit, including one depicting president Zuma’s, exposed genitals.

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Cockerill says there was no way the picture could not be included as the nudity is a small part of its message.

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