Change decision on Zuma painting - FXI

2013-04-18 12:32
Kobus Myburgh with his painting which depicts a white President Jacob Zuma and Nelson Mandela. (Mary-Ann Palmer, Beeld)

Kobus Myburgh with his painting which depicts a white President Jacob Zuma and Nelson Mandela. (Mary-Ann Palmer, Beeld)

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Johannesburg - The Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI) called on Thursday for a review of a decision to remove a painting depicting President Jacob Zuma and former president Nelson Mandela as whites from an exhibition.

"We... appeal for the reversal of this decision and for the painting to be restored at the gallery," the FXI said in a statement.

It said there seemed to be a trend by the government to censor freedom and artistic expression, and it found this to be "distasteful and regressive".

The painting, by Kobus Myburgh, which also depicted former heads of state Hendrik Verwoerd, John Vorster, PW Botha and FW de Klerk as blacks, was removed from an art exhibition in Mbombela, the Beeld reported this week.

During an inspection of the exhibition last week, the council's arts and culture head Themba Mona reportedly decided on the spot that the painting was "not suitable" for public viewing, removed it and locked it in a storeroom.

Protecting artists' rights

The exhibition was to have taken place on Monday.

Council spokesperson Bessie Pienaar told the newspaper Mona had the right to decide what could be exhibited.

However, the FXI said: "As we have indicated in the past, the test of a country's integrity and genuineness in supporting the principles of freedom of expression lies in its tolerance of expression...."

It called for the protection of creative workers' rights and their right to provoke debate and discussion.

"The FXI... even encourages people to criticise and express their views on a piece of art such as [this] one...," it said.

The FXI urged Mona not to silence artistic expression.

"[We] urge him to express his views on the painting or even condemn it if he so wishes, but not seek to silence the artistic expression."

Nelspruit city spokesperson Joseph Ngala declined to comment on the matter.

"I can only comment on something that is in front of me... and it's not Mr Mona that decided not to exhibit the painting, it was a panel. It was not a decision taken by an individual, but by a collective," he said.
Read more on:    fxi  |  zuma painting

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