New Zuma painting uproar

2013-09-28 00:00

A NEW work by Ayanda Mabulu, the politically outspoken painter from Cape Town, was removed from the FNB Joburg Art Fair 2013 for fear, says the artist, that “it will offend sponsors and important people”.

The incident marks another chapter in an ongoing tale of censorship against the controversial artist, infamous for painting President Jacob Zuma with his penis exposed — before Brett Murray did in The Spear.

Mabulu told City Press he was informed by his gallery, Commune1, on Thursday, the day of the opening of the fair, that the painting would no longer be shown.

“I got a call saying that the organisers are not happy with it and they want it taken down. He explained that they said it may offend their sponsors and other important people who might not like to see the president displayed in a certain way.”

The painting is titled Yakhal’inkomo — Black Man’s Cry. It is themed around the Marikana shooting and depicts a kneeling miner with horns on his head, metaphorically representing a dying bull. He is being attacked by Zuma’s dog, which signifies the police. Zuma, who is dressed in a suit during the blood sports, steps on another dying miner’s head.

The other characters include Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles, who are laughing at the spectacle. They are hosted by Cyril Ramaphosa. Julius Malema is also depicted in his red beret, shocked by what he sees.

The dying miners are being killed by a matador who uses the South African flag instead of the usual red cape to lure the miners to his sword.

The work is named after musical compositions by the late Winston Mankunku Ngozi and Nigerian icon Fela Kuti.

The artist said: “I understood this sort of thing in Cape Town when the AWB was after me [for his depiction of Eugene Terre’Blanche] but I did not expect this in Joburg, which is supposed to be black.

“Maybe the best thing is for me to f**k off from this country if this is the case.”

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