Art expert says The Spear may be saved

2012-05-23 23:09

Johannesburg - An art expert said on Wednesday that the controversial painting of President Jacob Zuma, The Spear, may yet be saved after being defaced by vandals.

Ruarc Peffers, speaking on a radio show, said it appeared that the paints used to deface the acrylic portrait were oil-based, which meant the painting could be cleaned.

"The red and black paint look oil-based... If this is the case, then it wouldn't be too much trouble to remove," said Peffers.

"Theoretically, it can be cleaned."

Barend la Grange and Louis Mabokela defaced the portrait with red and black paint at the Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg on Tuesday morning.

They were charged with malicious damage to property and were released on bail of R1 000 each.

Peffers believes that the vandalising of the painting would not enhance its value.

"I don't believe the value will change... In a week or two this will be a distant memory," he said.

He said the painting had become a celebrity in its own right and was politically interesting, but in five years time it would be "passé".


The depiction of President Zuma, part of Cape Town artist Brett Murray's exhibition Hail to the Thief II , has been widely condemned.

The ANC and the president have applied to have the controversial painting removed from the gallery on the grounds that it violates his and the party's dignity and rights.

It also wants the City Press newspaper to remove a photograph of the painting from its website.

The Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI) said on Wednesday that it supported the Goodman Gallery's refusal to remove the painting.

"We do not want to go back to a situation where art is censored because it offends the ruling party, or some take it upon themselves to dictate to others what is tasteful and acceptable," FXI said in a statement.

"We want to celebrate our artists, and not denigrate and control them in the way of apartheid, though they may provoke, push the boundaries and even cause offence."

FXI said it had been encouraged by the number of people who had derived a message from the painting.

However, it was also disappointed by the "excited" response by some, especially the ANC and its alliance partners.

"[They] have forgotten all those fine principles relating to freedom of expression and an open society for which so many fought. They misguidedly called for the picture's removal and even destruction," FXI said.

  • gareth.jones.7771 - 2012-05-23 23:25

    Seriously, don't fix it. It's caused far more trouble that it's worth.

      vloermoer - 2012-05-24 04:32

      Burn the F#$@#! thing

      Peter - 2012-05-24 07:20

      not that i condone the painting, but if i paid R135 000 for something i would want it fixed... especially since its my property

      Squeegee - 2012-05-24 07:31

      Its defacing is part of its infamy and it should stay as it is. It tells the full story of a failed president, a government obsessed with that which is unimportant and their commitment to denying free speech. It also speaks to the difference of value systems in the country, etc.

      Johan - 2012-05-24 07:45

      It can't be fixed, and I'm not talking about the painting. - 2012-05-24 08:29

      I think it should be restored. If it can't e restored Brett Murray should repaint it but with a smaller spear. Although this painting has been widely condemned, it has also widely been welcomed by people opposed to a leader who thinks with his small head. He doesn't have the people of this country at heart. The painting shows a person who wants to satisfy his own needs at any cost, go to any length and remove anyone or thing that stands in his way or dares to question his intentions. This is the reason we have freedom of expression long live democracy, Brett Murray we salute you for your courage and for telling the world what we are all to scared to say. Brilliant.

      Patsy - 2012-05-24 09:40

      In fact, no. It has shown up the ruling party for what they actually are. Despots, racists and dictators. Why did they not create a furore about the painting done by a black artist a few years ago? It is even more sexually explicit. I've seen no such reaction from the DPA re the picture of Helen Zille. In fact she has had the brains to shrug it off and not make a big international fuss about it.

      Merven - 2012-05-24 11:20

      gareth - the painting didn't cause any trouble, the actions from idiots caused trouble. If we had a better president and ruling party, no artist would've had to paint a painting like this. That is what you guys don't realise. The painting is just a tool that points out the ANC's shortcomings and mentality.

  • Christopher - 2012-05-23 23:29

    Well said FXI!

  • connor.sember - 2012-05-23 23:30

    Just when we thought it was over.

  • eugene.muller.7 - 2012-05-23 23:30

    Why all the distractions in the news all the time. Alot of energy and time is being spend on this. It's like throwing bones to security dogs while the thieves is robbing the premises. Starting to look like a script was written for this soapy. Mass manipulation and distractions.Lets rather try getting those school books to the kids in Limpopo...or saving the Rhino. Done with this painting crap.The truth hurts, earn respect and start running the country in a responsible manner...please?

      yolande.rwaai - 2012-05-23 23:43


      Aristar - 2012-05-24 04:49

      This is like watching a Punch and Judy show. With crazy old Judy doing something on stage right, while evil Punch is doing something nasty on stage left. But then the South African government is a Punch and Judy show. It is also a bit like a three ring circus and would P.T Barnum proud.

      eugene.muller.7 - 2012-05-24 07:37

      Lol..! Judi and Punch..classic haha!

  • Adil Smit - 2012-05-23 23:35

    Time to move on .

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-05-24 06:54

      "" It is time"" to accept, we have been taken for a massive ride!!!!! Sexwale, Malema and Murray, are rolling on the floor with laughter !!!! This is not "gutter" politics, it is "painting" politics!!!

  • Nathan - 2012-05-23 23:41

    Save the painting. Remove the ugly black and red paint and restore to its former glory. Wonder what the vandals will try next? Can't wait to see! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAH!

      gareth.jones.7771 - 2012-05-23 23:44

      Acrylic paint I'm sure

  • sally.lewitt - 2012-05-23 23:42

    Here we go again.. I don't think this infantile democracy can handle Freedom of Expression in any shape, form or word without it turning out to be a circus.. So shelve it!

  • Atholl - 2012-05-23 23:42

    Freedom of Expression is important. The court will be bound by the Bill of Rights which restricts Freedom of Expression ONLY if it advocates hatred that is based on : ... race ... ethnicity ... gender ... religion Was the message from the artist to provoke ? or to inspire discussion and awareness ? AND are the 'respondents' spinning the issue in order to shift the focus toward: .. race - no chance - no racial message is conveyed. .. ethnicity - little chance - how would anyone distinguish if the 'subject' is a Xhosa, Tswana, Zulu, 'Boer' or any other ethnicity ? Not even Lawyers (attorneys, Advocates, Judges) have the right to threaten Freedom of expression --- see the site ---:

      siphephelosphectecular - 2012-05-24 00:30

      But what about the president's rights as a person? That picture is degradory amd demeaning!

      Atholl - 2012-05-24 01:42

      siphephelosphectecular you are certainly correct to query the relevance of the right to dignity and maybe the test is as follows : Test 1: In the current climate where anything critical of a leadership (the presidency) is seized upon (by the political 'alliance') and used to motivate a different (defensive) cause - is there NEED and what are the ENDS that were intended by the 'artist'? ----- there are many paintings displayed --- why was only one targeted ? -- would the exhibit have the same value without it? Test 2: The manner that Freedom of expression is used to express an opinion toward a person or position - when that person or position DOES NOT favour your opinion ---> would you approve of the same manner (by someone else) to express a similar opinion when the person or position DOES favour your opinion. You say ''That picture is degradory amd demeaning!'' -- Answer: would the same message have been expressed without the exposure? - yes. Do the ones who NEED to understand the message (poor, unemployed etc) - understand the original message - no. Would they (poor, unemployed etc) have understood the message without the exposure? - probably not.

      Blip - 2012-05-24 04:39

      The president CHOSE to live a public life paid out of the public purse, so he is free game to be subjected to criticism and ridicule. That's the price of having a fatcat public life -- you surrender privacy.

  • Sale√© - 2012-05-23 23:47

    Oh, boy! This is getting vexing.

  • dave.prinsloo - 2012-05-24 00:00

    just remove the black paint. Of the three artists, I liked Barend's version best

  • Hugh_Influence - 2012-05-24 00:05

    What painting?

      Sandra - 2012-05-24 09:26

      the one with the shower head ;p

  • siphephelosphectecular - 2012-05-24 00:27

    This is all nonsense really... To have a painting of a grown man, the president in this case, with his genitals hanging out is just wrong irrespective of his race or status!!!... Its sad to think that there are idiots who find this distasteful and demeaning painting amusing!

      Blip - 2012-05-24 04:41

      It's great satire. Satire is good for any democracy -- even PW Botha accepted that and he was even more bitingly lampooned than Zuma.

      John - 2012-05-24 06:39

      And every time you post some stupid drivel you are just adding more publicity to the fact that showerdickhead is an absolute moron and not fit to rule my dogs kennel, never mind SA. Power to the DA people!

      danny.levin.351 - 2012-05-24 09:13

      It is called Freedom of expression. you obvisouly do not understand the concept.

      Patsy - 2012-05-24 12:22

      What about the painting done a few years ago by a black artist? Not a word was said about that until now I would say that his depiction of JZ's genitals was far more offensive than the de[iction in the present painting

  • robinne1 - 2012-05-24 01:01

    Why would the government highlight this painting in a blaze of publicity that has seen it viewed all over the world?,now a court case and a protest march which will keep every ones attention on the painting?. Well it has kept the attention off the corruption, service delivery problems and the e-tolling scam which are much bigger issues and more likely to do them harm than a little penis!

      Sandra - 2012-05-24 09:34

      Aaaah and there lies the crux!!!!! we are all totally absorbed with this little farce playing out. A relatively unknown artist has been made internationally famous over night (by a very mediocre painting that had abit of a vague message) and had it not been given the coverage it has - would have really been of NO IMPORTANCE. So Yup Robinne1 Im with you on this - have to wonder why it was given so much importance - to shift the focus from the very real and painful issues, that are highlighting the failure of the ANC, under its present leadership, to lead our country forward into the Rainbow Nation that our hero Nelson Mandela began. Pity this kinda of passion is not being poured into the real issues, the issues of poverty and of HIV/AIDS and of education and health care, and what about the poor Rhino that are being slaughtered to extinction!

  • Ngwana - 2012-05-24 01:10

    \Theoretically, it can be cleaned.\

      Blip - 2012-05-24 04:41

      It's already been cleaned. It's fully restored already.

  • Ntshobs - 2012-05-24 01:22

    I'm not a fan of any politician even the most decorated ones, but I would love to see all people who support this art,whites & blacks to stop telling us how we should see/interprete the painting. i believe the artist has made his point so is JGZ. JGZ has said this is hurting & asked it to be removed. Any gesture you make to another person sexually or otherwise may not be an illigal one, but if it is hurting the other person you should not continue with it. This painting has caused so much pain & division to a lot of people, black on black violence( security gard beating up Louis Mabokela) , millions of rands that should be utilised somewhere are going to be waisted on this case. My question to the artist,Goodman Gallery, city press & other supporters of this picture what exaclty that you are going to loose by pulling off this picture?, does it worth all the violence we have seen & the violence we are likely going to see if courts rule in favour of the artist?

      Blip - 2012-05-24 04:43

      No, if you're a public figure you don't get to decide who may or may not lampoon you.

      Sandra - 2012-05-24 09:38

      umm freedom of speech and freedom of expression maybe? my feelings get hurt everyday, but no-one actually gives a darn about that. Millions of people in SA,s right to education and healthcare and basics like clean drinking water are violated everyday - they have asked nicely, and often not so nicely, to have this address but JGZ is too busy making children to care about their rights and their feelings - go figure!

  • thando.ramncwana - 2012-05-24 01:33

    I bet you R20 the next Gallery to exhibit 'The Spear' will be burnt to the ground.......these natives are blooming going ape over this blerry artwork!!

      Blip - 2012-05-24 04:44

      This world-famous painting WILL go on display and security WILL now be super-tight. As tight, even, as for any other world-famous artwork.

  • Michael - 2012-05-24 01:46

    Shame they painted over it...Zuma could ahve bought and pasted it on the roof above his bed...hey if i was president i would....why does he care about sure he and his cronies have had a good laugh..relax jz it was a painting and not a political tool

  • Michael - 2012-05-24 01:48


      Squeegee - 2012-05-24 07:35

      What has Div got to do with this...? (joke)

  • eddie.serane - 2012-05-24 01:50

    Jst remove the ugly paint n restore the nys picture

  • michael.i.wright - 2012-05-24 02:00

    It can be saved, oh joy. Pity no-one can do the same for Wiehan Botes. Pitiful.

  • Billy - 2012-05-24 02:55

    forgot they could do this. pretty funny.

  • joan.mawila - 2012-05-24 04:44

    You called it freedom when drawing people being naked???Why don,t you draw your own pictures,and then display them.You are a disgrace to most of us and to God our creator.

      mosale.magwele - 2012-05-24 05:40

      U lost the plot the minute u brought God into ur comment! It makes u a hypocrite! Who are u to judge?

  • Jones - 2012-05-24 05:01

    These so called artists and their stupid experts can go to hell for i know. Who do they think they are to deem others as uneducated and what makes them any special? Go draw you gogos genitals and tell them you`re supertalented and supereducated

      Merven - 2012-05-24 11:27

      Their gogos don't rape this country, so no need for such paintings.

  • Faizie - 2012-05-24 05:40

    And sooner rather than later the ANC will also be "Passe". So much hate so little time!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Wisani Wisco Maphata - 2012-05-24 06:20

    Yes the painting will be removed and the designer must be suspended for the rest of his life, because this offense has violated S A as whole because Mr President Jacob Zuma his S A himself.

  • edward1012 - 2012-05-24 06:23

    Let say we believe JZ is as sensitive and precious as he claims. Do you think he is more offended by the depiction of his penis or the critism of him as a president. Can you be open to the idea that YOU might be manipulated as part of a political stategy to distract attention from far "uglier" issues? Oops, I said "PENIS"! How could I ever use such a word?! Wait a minute...What was I going to say again?

  • sazi.radebe - 2012-05-24 06:30

    I'm not a fan of this painting nor a fan of the ANC for that matter but has anyone thought that this exact painting will be used again by the ANC to brainwash the masses into voting for them again? The black masses are enraged by it. It will actually create an opposite effect as more and more black people will think white people are not what they say they are

  • neo.khemisi - 2012-05-24 06:57

    Yes I get it brett Marray has practice his right to expressions ,so what I want to know did he not abuse mr Zuma rights to privacy??? I want answers to those law expect of news24 only YES and NO will do course anything more than it will show me you still need to go back to school

      tuwanir - 2012-05-24 07:13

      Neo, the court will rule on that one. Don't forget that we're a constitutional democracy. All the pros

      ratsaka.eugene - 2012-05-24 07:31

      Neoza the yes or no answer will be ambiguous, but to answer your question, Mr Murray has indeed trampled on Mr Zuma's to privacy.

  • flaming.oven - 2012-05-24 07:28


  • karen.t.hinks - 2012-05-24 07:29

    This painting has shown huge cultural differences I have zero respect for Zuma but loads for my country men. It offends their cultural believes deeply. This painting must be out away. It is not worth the divide of my country. No matter hiq much we hate Zuma and how he is raping our country.

  • flaming.oven - 2012-05-24 07:36


  • clive.brink - 2012-05-24 07:40

    And so the struggle continues! We struggle in our daily lives just to make ends meet, while we have to struggle to deal with rubbish like this. The painting as is deserves a prominent honourary place in the lobby of Parliament, otherwise the Union Buildings. Paint new pictures of flowers and fairies and of happy days coming!

  • tholoana - 2012-05-24 07:51

    are we really still on about that? what ever happened to freedom of expression? or does it only work for \political\ figures? art is art. why trash it then want to save it. we have way nore hectic issues to deal with in this country that this painting. seriously now

      andre.k.streicher - 2012-05-24 08:06

      I like the way u think !

  • Cpo - 2012-05-24 07:53

    The red and black paint look oil-based... If this is the case, then it wouldn't be too much trouble to remove," said Peffers.ha>ha>ha, The red and black paint look water-based... If this is the case, then it would be too much trouble to remove," said ME>

  • anoldl - 2012-05-24 07:58

    Thank goodness. The spear can be revived.

  • Jill - 2012-05-24 07:59

    Spears can be long and thin or short and fat... wonder how much paint it took to deface the painting?:)

  • Susan - 2012-05-24 08:02

    Zuma publicly marries more than 1 wife in a country being torn apart by the hiv aids epidemic! Zuma was publicly tried for rape! Zuma publicly humiliated & removed Mbeki from his presidential term! The man has been so public yet the one time somebody publicly depicts their view of a public figure, Zuma wants privacy?! Zuma has double standards!!!!

      Bernadette Amir - 2012-05-24 17:07


      zymsimango - 2012-05-29 14:26

      Hey u stupid, wake up smell fresh air, this is africa, not urope. for yr info, african culture allows a man to marry as many wives as he can. Europeans brought aids in adrica, they must deal with it and stop telling how to live our lives. if whites were educated enough as they always claim,surely they should have discovered aids cure longtime ago.

  • JayJohnsonS - 2012-05-24 08:09

    Like seriously...????? get we rest this already.

  • ntjeke.wilfred - 2012-05-24 08:32

    oreng boloka sechaba sa heso o fedise dintwa le Matshwenyeho.

      robbie.crouch - 2012-05-24 09:29

      So much for intelligent debate.

  • bhulangwe - 2012-05-24 08:52

    Agendas, Agendas and more Agendas....if you think South Africa is a democratic country, well think again.

  • Fred - 2012-05-24 09:01

    It is the Kont istutional right of Zuma to complain because the maidens in SA will now be sighing about the organ of the country.

  • Sonja - 2012-05-24 09:09

    Great news. Viva "The Spear" (Hai Hai) VIVA!!

  • danny.levin.351 - 2012-05-24 09:10

    If only there was a way to clean up the act of the ANC and the Prez... if only. OK, enough day dreaming. back to work.

      robbie.crouch - 2012-05-24 09:29

      It will take a lot of thinners... thinner votes for the ANC...

  • danny.levin.351 - 2012-05-24 09:15

    Next time they display the "Prez Jewells" they shoudl take the same precautions as those that are used for displaying the "Crown Jewells" (in UK)

  • Timothy - 2012-05-24 10:07

    Thanks Rob for your input... keep it as it is!

  • zymsimango - 2012-05-24 10:38

    its interesting in sa, most whites are called experts even if they dont have a clue what they talking about

      antin.herinck - 2012-05-24 12:42

      Congratulations! You have made the Most Retarded Comment of the Day! You are now in line for our prestigious title of: RETARD OF THE MONTH *You are warned not to put up your hopes too much. Competition is fierce.

  • thereisonlyonegerbil - 2012-05-24 12:12

    Winston Churchill was proud to be named the bulldog, Margaret Thatcher was pleased to be known as the iron lady, whereas here in our "democracy" (although the ANC themselves seem to be all about personality cults - see Zuma, little july, etal.) anything like this is seen as a personal attack

  • antin.herinck - 2012-05-24 13:04

    I can well imagine that it can be saved. The type of paint the die-hard fans of Zoomer used and the type of paint Murray used are different. (Oil based-alkyd type VS acrylic.) Time is of the essence though -the longer they wait, the less effective the (selective) solvent (mixture) will be.

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