Statue makes artist see red

2004-04-26 16:29
Johannesburg - A Danish artist who made headlines by painting an iceberg red has given South Africans an unusual gift to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the end of apartheid.

Chilean born artist Marco Evaristti poured five litres of red organic dye into a fountain at Johannesburg's upmarket Mandela Square shopping mall late on Sunday.

He said the gesture was to beautify a "very badly proportioned and really ugly" statue of Nelson Mandela, standing next to the fountain.

"I want to make something pretty for the country to celebrate its 10 years of democracy," he said on Monday. "I want to bring some happiness."

Evaristti, who turned 41 on Sunday, called the work "Pink Elephant in Mandela Square."

"I first wanted to paint a real elephant pink, but authorities wanted R50 000 for it. So I rather went for the statue," he said.

Officials at Mandela Square declined to comment, saying they were still dealing with the matter.

"The management wants me to pay for damages, but I refuse," Evaristti said. "I will rather go to trial and exercise my right to free speech."

South Africa celebrates 10 years of multiracial democracy on Tuesday, the same day President Thabo Mbeki is inaugurated for a second term.

Last month, Evaristti and a small team spray painted an iceberg off the Greenland coast blood red.

On Thursday, he brings his unique brand of art to Canada before continuing to France.

He declined to say what he has planned in those countries, because he said authorities might try to stop him. "But it will be beautiful," he said.

Evaristti also drew attention in 2000, when he displayed 10 working blenders filled with goldfish at a Danish gallery.

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