Artist defends 'vulgar' Zuma painting: 'Is he not disrespecting us?'

2016-07-13 13:43
An edited version of Ayanda Mabulu's work, (Ingwe Ayizidli ngamaBala isakuluma iKaka okwesiHlunu seNyama) Ayityiwa iKaka nokuba ungalamba ungagabha. (Supplied)

An edited version of Ayanda Mabulu's work, (Ingwe Ayizidli ngamaBala isakuluma iKaka okwesiHlunu seNyama) Ayityiwa iKaka nokuba ungalamba ungagabha. (Supplied)

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Cape Town - Artist Ayanda Mabulu has defended his controversial painting that depicts President Jacob Zuma in a sexual act with one of the Gupta brothers‚ a naked Atul‚ in an aircraft's cockpit. 

Mabulu’s work is currently on exhibition at Constitution Hill. 

"He is clearly an ass licker," Mabulu told News24 on Wednesday.

"What he is doing is disrespecting millions of people in the country. How else can we portray him?"

In the painting, the two are in a tryst in the cockpit of an aeroplane.

"We are all passengers in this plane," said Mabulu.

"The economy has crashed, the country is in ruins, black people are living in a dire situation. How do we talk about that?"

In the painting, Zuma is fully clothed in a dark suit, white shirt, red tie and glasses, but he is gripping Gupta's thigh while perfoming analingus.

Through the window of the cockpit, another plane is seen banking directly into their path, and is about to crash into them.

'It is vulgar and disrespectful'

A fabric, containing African National Congress colours and logo, is draped over some of the instruments.

The title of the painting is (Ingwe Ayizidli ngamaBala isakuluma iKaka okwesiHlunu seNyama) Ayityiwa iKaka nokuba ungalamba ungagabha, which translates to A tiger does not take pride of its stripes when it bites shit thinking its piece of meat, we don't eat shit no matter how hungry you can be, you'll vomit.

ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa slammed the painting.

"It is vulgar and disrespectful, and therefore it goes beyond the limits of freedom of expression and the media," said Kodwa.

"That is why freedom lovers and media practioners must come out and show their outrage over this graphic depiction. It is an insult, it is undermining, it is disrespectful."

However, Mabulu defended his painting.

He explained that the cockpit was a reference to the controversial Waterkloof Airforce Base Gupta wedding landing, and government's plans to spend an estimated R4bn on a new jet for Zuma.

To him, it shows the contrast between the pleasurable lives of power and privilege enjoyed by the two men, and the allegations against them of "state capture", while many others are protesting for services, or being shot as a result of crime.

He said it also depicted his own anger over "state capture", following claims that some in the Gupta family had offered MPs ministerial posts. The Guptas have denied this and the ANC closed its own investigation after receiving just one formal complaint over the matter.

'Is he not disrespecting us?'

Earlier this year, former MP Vytjie Mentor alleged that the Guptas had offered her the job of state enterprises minister in a meeting at their house. According to her, she rejected the offer and Zuma emerged and helped her down the steps of the house.

Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas also alleged in a statement to the media that he was offered the job of finance minister by the brothers.

Critics are questioning the supposedly close relationship between the Guptas, who have diversified interests in South Africa including mining and media, and Zuma, whose son Duduzane is in business with the Guptas.

Mabulu rejected accusations that he was being disrespectful, and racist.

"Is he not disrespecting us? Do you know how many children are without food?"

"If Jacob Zuma was a white president, most of the black people now, who seem to be against what I am doing, they would have been clapping hands. If I depicted PW Botha, they would be fine with it."

The gallery is uphill from the Constitutional Court, where Zuma has the final say over the judges appointed there, including the Chief Justice.

Curator of the gallery, Ruben Pasha, said the painting formed part of an exhibition titled "Post It", and was intended to make people talk about life in post-apartheid South Africa.

No threats to gallery

The gallery was lining up speakers for a panel discussion on sections 10, 16 and 36 of the Constitution, so that people could have their say.

Section 10 deals with dignity, 16 with freedom of expression and 36 with limitation of rights, and the paintings, including Mabulu's, would be referenced for this talk.

"All the work seen is about the status quo after the removal of 'Big Apartheid'. It is unfortunate that only his painting is getting attention," said Pasha.

In the meantime, the gallery had not received any threats over the painting.

Mabulu's last painting, Pornography of Power, also elicited an angry response from some quarters.

Brett Murray's painting, The Spear, which depicted Zuma's genitals hanging out, was vandalised by two people at the Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg where it was on display in May 2012. At that time, the ANC called for a boycott of City Press which had published a picture of The Spear.

But this time, Kodwa said the ANC wanted to concentrate on its campaign for the August 3 local government elections.

Comment was not immediately available from the Presidency.

- You can see the full image here.

Read more on:    ayanda mabulu  |  jacob zuma  |  johannesburg ­  |  painting

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