Contemporary art often controversial - gallery

2012-05-25 12:47

Johannesburg - In order for a contemporary art gallery to be successful it cannot have an overt political, religious or ideological agenda, the Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg said on Friday.

"I regret the divisiveness that the exhibition has caused, and reiterate that it is was never my intention to cause hurt to any person," gallery director Liza Essers said, referring to the controversy over Brett Murray's painting The Spear.

"However, the nature of contemporary art is that works are often controversial."

The gallery was responding in a statement to an African National Congress application to have the painting, depicting President Jacob Zuma with his genitals exposed, taken down.

The matter was heard in the South Gauteng High Court on Thursday and was indefinitely postponed. Another date would be set and another full bench constituted.

The Spear generated national debate when it was shown at the gallery last week. The artwork formed part of Murray's exhibition Hail to the Thief II.

The gallery closed its doors after the portrait was defaced by two people on Tuesday.

Protest march 

Both were arrested. A third person was apprehended outside the premises after trying to spray paint the word "respect" on a wall. All three appeared in court and had their cases postponed.

"Protecting the integrity and the neutrality of the gallery space is paramount. The Goodman Gallery is a space where the rich and diverse voices of our country can be heard," said Essers.

Outside the court on Thursday afternoon ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe asked the crowd to march on the Goodman Gallery on Tuesday in protest.

"The march must be successful and it must send a clear message. African culture is not inferior. We must protect African-ness," Mantashe told the crowd.

He echoed SA Communist Party general secretary Blade Nzimande's call to boycott City Press newspaper, which published a picture of the painting on its website, and has thus far refused to take it down.

  • Citizen - 2012-05-25 12:57

    Dear Goodman Gallery dont bother trying to explain because according to the A.N.C only the 'elite' understand the painting, the masses will be dictated to about what they must like or dislike by the ruling Elite because the poor and downtrodden cant think for themselves or have an opinion either..classic marxist policies 'You will believe what we tell you to believe'

      Christopher - 2012-05-25 13:10

      Well...I tell you what tell the artists of the world what we can and cannot paint. Is flowers cool? landscapes? landscapes of your D**K...please let us know.

      HugoMabasa - 2012-05-25 13:36

      Kalawa I am waiting for the apologists to answer that one,interestingly non of them,Jewish or Muslim are black

      Iam - 2012-05-25 17:56

      @HugoMabasa: The vast majority of Muslims are not white.

  • louis.langenhoven - 2012-05-25 13:15

    Matashe and Nzimande seems to be in a head to head battle to prove who can make more ridiculous statements

  • Richard Stockenström - 2012-05-25 13:17

    It was originally reported that the third animal outside the gallery was attempting to spray paint the word "racist". now it has changed to "respect". Which one is it?

      Rabble-Rouser - 2012-05-25 13:25

      The vandal got as far as "Res". So one can only deduce that the word "Respect" was intended. Unless his spelling is atrocious.

  • Tsotsi-Baby - 2012-05-25 13:17

    Lets protect our culture MaAfrica

  • Bob - 2012-05-25 13:34

    Isn’t it amazing how this one silly painting has made us ALL show our true colours..? Read thru the comments on this page and others and you will notice that even the people with whom you agree, have become arrogant and stupid. Not just those with whom you don’t agree. It’s been a real test which I fear we have all failed...

  • clifford.graham.5 - 2012-05-25 13:34

    Stalin ordered artists to paint only tractors and other Soviet approved images. He was also responsible for the death of millions of Soviet citizens...

      HugoMabasa - 2012-05-25 13:37


      Kagiso Tlhakung - 2012-05-25 13:42

      So??? The Anc is not fighting for the rest of the Hail to the thief collection whr clearly Murray attacks the Anc in the name of art. They are rather fighting against the exposure of the Presidents genitals on public platform. Goodman Gallery and City Press jst want to humiliate our president, en if u touch our President u touch us coz we put him there.

  • Kagiso Tlhakung - 2012-05-25 13:37

    Yes we must go there en show those animals that African culture isnt inferior. We wont let our presidents dignity be sold for R136 000 nxa. En has the Goodman gallery ever put up art offensive to Jews or Muslims??? No. Although i dnt agree with polygamy we cant let our President be humiliated lyk dis, there are ppl with far worse crimes and looseness. Lolly Jackson who was a blatant philanderer never had a painting of genitals put up for public view even Bill Clinton. Goodman Gallery allows the public to view that art en they dont even have an age restriction so any kids can jst see that. Nxa dis must be dismissed as porn and as much as the courts can fight child pornography they must also fight the distribution of this picture.

      Theo - 2012-05-25 13:58

      Oh my word ... im not even gonna try and explain to you - clearly you cant or wont understand. If our President is fathering children out of wed-lock, and have consential un-protected sex with a young family friend and believe that a shower can prevent aids - and the whole country including children know about his antics, that dont seem to bother anyone... why ? because thats African culture ? Our President dignity is long gone my friend. GO talk k**k elswhere, please not on this forum.

      Bless Boswell - 2012-05-25 14:02

      Oh twaddle. You are making a mountain out of a molehill. What do know about your president's Behaviour? Do you agree with his morals? Well, the picture reflects what the artist thinks of his morals. If he does not like it, then he must behave himself and stop sleeping around.

      HugoMabasa - 2012-05-25 14:11

      the president 's personal life is just that personal,why are whites so obsessed with the black penis,you people are disgustingly twisted

      Iam - 2012-05-25 17:48

      @HugoMabasa: Hau man! Look what happened to Clinton when he was US president and he got a BJ. How can you say that the president's private life is his own business. Aikona man, you are being silly!

  • Nomfundo - 2012-05-25 13:45

    Lolly Jackson was not the president of this country; he did not loot the resources of the government for the benefit of his famiily and friends that's why we not interested in him. Same if Zuma was no the president of the country and living on his own resources we would not be bothered with his private life.

      HugoMabasa - 2012-05-25 14:11


      Kagiso Tlhakung - 2012-05-25 15:13

      oh so u mean when u are a public figure u automatically lose ur rights to dignity and privacy and ppl can jst have their way with u??? Y then dont we undress all parliamentarians of all parties, paint them en sell their dignity for a profit. Do u remember Travel gate scandal?? MP's from all parties whr involved, and the communications tender in Zille's gov which the PP found was flawed. En can u prove this looting of funds for his own benefit?? I can tell u i have evidence of how Zuma fought for this democracy u are enjoying and abusing now. - 2012-05-25 16:19

      @Kasigo - I don't get why we don't just focus on the laws. We spent ages negotiating the Constitution (one of the best in the world) yet all these emotive and irrelevant subjects come up. Pres Zuma is most welcome to sue Murray for defamation. The constitution would not protect Murray there. It's interesting to note that Pres Zuma chose constitutional grounds to fight this. If you think it was going well for him in yesterdays's case you may well be wrong. a) Pres Zuma's advocate conceded that it had nothing to do with race. You wouldn't think that given all the posts b) The court found that neither the ANC nor the organisation of the Presidency was not entitled to constitutional protection since they are not people. Pres Zuma has constitutional rights in his personal capacity only There is little question that Murray has defamed the President. That does not follow the courts will find for Pres Zuma I suspect that he won't sue for defamation for 2 reasons a) His private life would end up under the microscope and b) he may lose as truth and publiic interest are defences in defamation COnsitutionally, I don't get many people's objections. The fact that he is a father and the President counts zero. The lowest of the low has exactly the same rights as Pres Zuma. Yet the subject keeps coming up as though people are updating the Constitution in realtime and in retrospect. We have a great Constitution. We have good laws. Lets use them

  • Ally - 2012-05-25 14:13

    Those were not Zuma's balls in the picture. He doesn't have any. Those are Brett's balls -- he's donated them to the man who doesn't have any.

  • winston.mullany - 2012-05-25 14:43 wife.....see a pattern here!

  • linda.odendaal - 2012-05-25 16:35

    Culture, pornoghraphy, disrespect, racist... Rubbish the artists merely depicts his own opinion. Freedom of speech is a constitutional right. I have not seen the painting but can certainly apply an interpretation of such a work. A man who should be respected evokes images of self gratification, under the guise of poligamy, cheats on the women he marries, at the same time he gets into bed with unsavoury and less than honorable people, where does that leave our country? If it offends you apply self censorship. Any parent censors what their children are exposed to, that does not mean that it does not exists. A man in his position should earn respect, not be respected because of his position.

      Happy - 2012-05-29 13:31

      One can tell ur a white fool...but one also understand whites will never change.

  • Aphrodite - 2012-05-25 17:59

    "African culture is not inferior. We must protect African-ness" WTF are they on about now??

      maseratifittipaldi - 2012-05-25 20:24

      They mean they must protect Afrikaners.

  • Happy - 2012-05-29 13:18

    The Gallery personnel knew what they were doing. They deliberately displayed that insulting/disrespectful and humiliating work of Art by that bustard. I therefore wish their building can be burned down and distroyed. I'm quiet sure they will never ever do such again. And we will pray for them so that they must accept the changes in our RAINBOW NATION.

  • pages:
  • 1