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THE painting by Cape Town artist Ayanda Mabulu showing President Jacob Zuma with his genitals exposed is a mockery of the president’s office, his status as a father and a husband, and is an absolute abuse of the arts, the ANC says.
“We condemn this painting in the strongest terms. Any portrayal of President Zuma in this way is disrespectful,” ANC communications manager Keith Khoza said yesterday.
The ANC in the Eastern Cape said the painting was “an insult”. “It hurts us to find this nasty painting especially after the painful incident involving one desperate fellow, Brett Murray, and the City Press,” spokesman Mlibo Qoboshiyane said. “One thing is for sure, a number of broke and uncreative individuals masquerading as artists insult the president by painting these clumsy things in search of quick cash.”
Qoboshiyane said the new painting was an insult to Mabulu’s parents.
“It means Mabulu’s parents failed to raise him to be a respectful child,” he said.
The painting, titled uMshini Wam (Weapon of Mass Destruction) is part of an exhibition called Our Fathers at the AVA gallery in the city where it is on display along with 40 other works. Included are works by Murray, who made headlines after his controversial painting The Spear, also showing Zuma’s penis, led to protests at the Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg in May.
Mabulu, 29, expressed concern about the way people were interpreting the painting.
“This painting is not there to mock the president. It is there to pose a question, and what we are asking is how can you dance whereas people are dying of starvation,” he said, referring to the question written on the top-right corner of the painting.
It depicts Zuma in traditional regalia, with his right foot raised as if in traditional dance, while his genitals are exposed.
Mabulu’s 2010 painting of the late AWB leader Eugene Terre’Blanche was barred from a Truworths exhibition in Cape Town.
“What is controversy?” he asked as he stood in front of the painting, explaining what he had set out to do.
“These are simply the voices whispered behind the doors of our shacks. This is not only me, it is ‘us’,” he said.
AVA director and co-curator Kirsty Cockerill said the painting was just one of 40 different artworks done by 24 artists. “There are 20 more works of art that may be seen as controversial. Simply put, Ayanda’s painting is just a thread that weaves the carpet,” she said.
Mabulu, who lives in Dunoon, said he was not happy with the way some media houses were publishing the picture, with some “not exposing the full painting and what it really looked like”.
“I would love the part that shows the genitals to be shown. There is no need to hide it, as they (politicians) are not hiding their own lavish lifestyles. This is not a portrait of him (Zuma), as hiding the real painting leaves it as a mere portrait,” said Mabulu.
He told the Cape Times that those who thought the painting was controversial were merely looking at it with a “Eurocentric” viewpoint. “All I did was strip him of his suit and tie. Proverbs and metaphors have always been used by the people of this land, long before me. This painting is not political, but it is a social statement.”