Cape Town - Two artists have expressed dismay after UCT management decided to remove and cover up their artworks on display at the university.
During a recent student protest, 23 paintings and photographs were destroyed on campus prompting university management to remove 75 artworks for safekeeping.
The university has 1 100 artworks by 520 South African artists.
Award-winning artist Diane Victor’s Pasiphaë painting was hidden from view with a wooden panel last week. It features a bull being held by a farmer with a small girl smiling with a miniature bull on wheels at her feet.
Inside the bull a figure of a naked black man can be seen sleeping. The artist explained that the painting is about the sexual awakening of the young girl.
“I think the artwork has been misinterpreted. It was done for an exhibition in Bloemfontein and my aim was to slightly provoke white male farmers. There was no racial indication against black people,” Victor said.
She said it was “sad” that a university would choose to cover up an image when it should provide a platform for art to be questioned.
World-renowned anti-apartheid playwright and artist Breyten Breytenbach’s Hovering Dog painting was also “removed for safekeeping” recently.
In an open letter to a daily news website Breytenbach criticised the move to take down his painting.
Breytenbach said he wanted to “convey my sentiment of disgust, and can only hope for this missive to reach them through you”.
UCT spokesperson Elijah Moholola said the university was in the process of an “accelerated transformation process”.
“All aspects of UCT are up for discussion. One of which is about creating an environment where a diversity of staff and students feel comfortable...
Works of art is one of the elements that is being vigorously discussed – their place at UCT and how they are displayed.”