Cops want The Spear as evidence

2012-05-22 15:53

Defacing of Zuma painting

2012-05-22 13:00

Two men were caught on camera defacing Zuma's painting called The Spear at the Goodman gallery in Johannesburg.WATCH

Johannesburg - The Goodman Gallery's owner and police are discussing whether a controversial painting of President Jacob Zuma can be removed, to be used as evidence, after it was vandalised on Tuesday, the gallery's lawyer says.

"The gallery owner and police are discussing whether the gallery will allow the painting to be taken away and that point is under negotiation at the moment," said the gallery's lawyer, Greg Palmer.

Earlier on Tuesday, two men allegedly defaced the painting, The Spear, by Cape Town artist Brett Murray, with red and black paint, obscuring the face and waist of the figure.

A third man was arrested for apparently trying to spray the word "respect" on a wall of the gallery but just got as far as "res" before being caught.

Police spokesperson Colonel Vishnu Naidoo confirmed the arrests in a statement.

"The two men, 58 and 25 years of age, allegedly made crosses with red paint and smeared black paint respectively on the portrait."

Earlier, the gallery's lawyer said the second person was believed to be a 15-year-old.

The arrests came within an hour of the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg setting down an application by the ANC to have the painting removed from the gallery for hearing by a full bench on Thursday morning.

The application had just been postponed when word spread that the painting, part of Murray's exhibition Hail to the Thief II, had been defaced.

In slow motion

Iman Rappetti, eNews channel anchor, was in the Goodman Gallery close to the painting when a man took out a pot of paint and marked an X in the genital area of the portrait.

"It was surreal."

Rappetti described the man as completely "ordinary" wearing a tweed jacket. Unbeknown to Rappetti another man was standing behind her with a large pot of black paint.

The second man started "going to town on the picture", she said.

Gallery staff apprehended both men and the police arrived and took them away.

The gallery closed afterwards, and the public and reporters crowded outside.

Inside the gallery gate were three private and armed security guards wearing bulletproof vests - with one guard carrying a rifle.

"It looked staged, like it was okay to do," said student Naledi Morron, who was inside the gallery on a field trip with her art teacher when the incident happened.

Her teacher Louise Shaw said: "It was so slow motion."

Read more on:    jacob zuma  |  johannesburg  |  zuma painting

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