Gallery takes down The Spear

2012-05-22 18:30

Johannesburg - The Goodman Gallery pulled down from its walls the controversial painting of President Jacob Zuma with his penis exposed after it was defaced by protesters on Tuesday.

Two men smeared paint over the painting The Spear, with Zuma posed as Vladimir Lenin with his genitals exposed.

The vandalism occurred as about 400 African National Congress supporters sang and danced in downtown Johannesburg in support of Zuma during a court hearing on the party's request to force the gallery to remove the painting.

"We have removed the painting from the premises to a safe location pending the court case," the gallery said in a statement.

It also said it has laid charges of malicious damages to property against the suspects who defaced the painting.

Police said three people were arrested, including one who damaged the gallery's walls.

The gallery has also closed temporarily over "numerous threats of intimidation".

The painting by Brett Murray stirred rage from government and the ANC shortly after it went up for exhibition last week, with accusations that it was racist, disrespectful and an abuse of freedom of expression.

"The extent of the rage has astonished me and upset me very much," said gallery owner Liza Essers.

"I... never imagined that this debate would transform into harmful physical action."

The court case is due to be heard on Thursday.

Read more on:    goodman gallery  |  jacob zuma  |  brett murray  |  johannesburg  |  zuma painting
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