A painting of President Jacob Zuma in traditional attire with his genitals exposed went on display at the AVA Gallery in Cape Town last night.
City artist Ayanda Mabulu’s painting, titled Umshini Wam (Weapon of Mass Destruction), is part of an exhibition – Our Fathers – featuring works of artists like Brett Murray, whose controversial painting The Spear sparked protest action against the Goodman Gallery in May.
The Spear, which had also displayed Zuma with his penis exposed, was later withdrawn by the Goodman Gallery, removed from the City Press website and classified by the Films and Publications Board as unsuitable for under-16s.
Mabulu is no stranger to controversy. In May 2010, his painting of the late AWB leader Eugene Terre’Blanche’s head on a tray was barred from an exhibition in the foyer of Truworths in Cape Town.
Mabulu, who lives in Dunoon, said Umshini Wam, priced at R75 000, was not about disrespecting Zuma.
“The painting depicting Jacob Zuma is a respectful one. He is clothed in his culture. He is clothed in his manhood. Only a Eurocentric viewpoint would see him as naked.
“He is not naked – I did not paint him with an uncircumcised penis. This is a metaphor that shows he is not a boy – he is a man, an elder, a father, a leader,” Mabulu said.
“In this painting, I’m engaging my elder, in the language of my mother tongue, the language that carries the culture of my people, a language he understands the most. Through this painting, I respectfully, as one of his children, ask my father why he is starving us, why he is negating his duties to his children, the citizens of SA.”
The painting is dedicated to the miners who died in the Lonmin tragedy.