Teacher unionist censors Nkandla painting at resort

2014-07-11 00:00

STELLENBOSCH — A painting had to be removed from a resort on the West Coast after a member of the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union took offence at its content.

Charlene Kritzinger, the agent of the artist Eugene Wicht, said she could not understand why her client’s painting had caused the unionist to be affronted.

Kritzinger said members of the union had attended a week-long conference at Club Mykonos in Langebaan, where the painting entitled Who takes the fall? formed part of an exhibition by Wicht.

The painting shows a boy — clad in in clean white pants, a torn T-shirt and takkies — and a whippet in front of a New Age newspaper poster under the headline: “Nkandla: Who takes the fall?”

Kritzinger said almost all of Wicht’s paintings are inspired by issues in the news and deliver a subtle commentary on these issues. She said in the case of this painting the visual representation had been commented on by the media for a while.

She said the painting contrasted poverty with presidential abundance, adding it is when people see such a juxtaposition that the question gets asked: “Who really is disadvantaged by such excessive spending”.

Club Mykonos manager Jon Kilroe-Smith yesterday said a guest had taken offence at the political connotation of the painting.

“The painting was removed and the artist came to fetch it on Wednesday. The painting will not be exhibited again.”

Kilroe-Smith said only one member had complained and the union had not made a formal complaint.

Kritzinger said earlier paintings by Wicht had also caused comments, but it was the first time that one of his works was removed because of one person’s complaint.

“It may be justified by the saying the client is always right, but where do we draw a line?

“It is also ironic that members of a union that calls itself democratic do not act like people who believe in democracy.”

She commented that it was also disappointing that it was a member of a teachers’ union that censored the painting, as she would expect teachers to show the mirror that art held up to society in a ­responsible and impartial manner.

Paintings by Wicht, a resident of Saldanha Bay, have been listed among the top 40 investments in 1 780 entries in the Sanlam Private ­Investment’s portrait list.

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