Joburg Art Fair removes Zuma painting

2013-09-27 13:56

Johannesburg - A new work by Ayanda Mabulu, the politically outspoken painter from Cape Town, was removed from the walls of 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, dreadlocked artist who became infamous for painting President Jacob Zuma with his penis exposed – before Brett Murray did the same with The Spear.

Mabulu told City Press that he received a call from his gallery, Commune1, on Thursday, the day of the opening of the fair, informing him that the painting would no longer be shown.

“We hung the work the day before the opening and it looked really good. Then 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.”

Royalty, Ramaphosa also depicted

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 that 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. Yakhal’inkomo loosely translates to “the bull bellows” or “the cow cries”.

Ross Douglas, the director of Art Logic, which organises the fair, told City Press: “There was by no means any pressure from FNB or the government to remove the painting. It was my decision. I felt that the art fair has a responsibility to the creative economy and the painting could compromise that.”

'We have a respnsibility'

Douglas says while surveying the work with his business partner, Cobi Labuscagne, ahead of the opening, the two of them agreed it should be taken down. “We had a discussion with his gallery and the painting was replaced by his other work,” says Douglas.

He added: “I understand why Mabulu made the work and why he is upset. However, it’s part of the challenge of running an art fair that one has to balance different interests. I must look after the interest of the artists, the sponsors, the buyers and the audiences. In the end it’s an art fair, not a biennale.

“We have a responsibility to many people who rely on the fair economically. I felt this was not the year to show such a work. I go to art fairs all over the world and ours is the least censored.”

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 fuck off from this country if this is the case.”

  • Frans Van Der Merwe - 2013-09-27 14:00

    First the spear of the nation now the machine gun of the nation.

      anikenvader - 2013-09-27 14:23

      This artist needs a bell's

      Bob Pacak - 2013-09-27 14:32

      Stuff FNB!

      Sarel Klopper - 2013-09-27 14:47

      Soon we will be the real rainbow nation without the corrupt ANC.

      NickvanGraan - 2013-09-27 15:31

      Once again we see that this "first world Constitution" we have that "guarantees" freedom of speech and freedom of expression is only but an ornament. The reality of life in South Africa is completely different.

      Louis Olivier - 2013-09-27 16:55

      Must be an improvement on the show

  • Tersia Louw - 2013-09-27 14:10

    What about your responsibility to art, Ross Douglas? Maybe you should open a spaza shop, rather?

  • Jackey Moss - 2013-09-27 14:14

    Take it to the Goodman Gallery

      NickvanGraan - 2013-09-27 15:33

      It's not a white artist, it will not have the same effect.

  • Alan Kennedy - 2013-09-27 14:15

    Joburg, supposed to be black? So much for the rainbow ...

  • MJS1234 - 2013-09-27 14:21

    So much for freedom of expression!

      Al Loots - 2013-09-27 14:39

      Just not free to express this specific piece of expression at this fair for now. You can't always have it your way. The world doesn't work that way.

  • Wolfgang de Beer - 2013-09-27 14:23

    I like this work, Could not have done it better myself.

  • Timothy Tanzer - 2013-09-27 14:35

    I love this guys work!hahahaha

  • Ntondo Marethau - 2013-09-27 14:35

    Strange they did not somehow tried to claim the Marikana painting was racist, like they do with everything else

  • Al Loots - 2013-09-27 14:37

    No one stops him from painting it on a wall somewhere.

      Jonathan Woods - 2013-09-27 19:37

      Brilliant idea Al, he should paint it on Loot Freely House!

  • Menzi Mnandi Phewa - 2013-09-27 14:38

    attention seeker

  • Se-Atile Mmereki - 2013-09-27 14:39

    Too much freedom of speech in South Africa. Too much freedom of anything. Yes we have freedom of speech, but your freedom should not overstep someone else's rights. Remember that. Your rights end where someone else's rights start.

      Al Loots - 2013-09-27 14:42

      You asked for the chicken, now that it wants to fly you want to clip its wings.

      Julie Elisabeth Craytor - 2013-09-27 14:57

      chickens cant fly.

  • MacavityTMC - 2013-09-27 14:48

    “We hung the work the day before the opening and it looked really good. Then 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.”. At least the president has not been caught with his pants down this time.

  • Matome Malahlela - 2013-09-27 14:55

    Mr second transition

  • Matome Malahlela - 2013-09-27 14:56

    mr second transition always make headlines for wrong reason i dont remember #zuluBoi taking sense in a long time

  • Winston Jackson - 2013-09-27 15:20

    Now this painting must be sold for 5 million pounds(150million Rand) to an overseas buyer and start a new "Zoomer Brand of Genre" If "zombie" has made himself rich out of his citizens then its time the tables turn that the citizens make themselves rich out of him.

  • John Tex - 2013-09-27 15:45

    Throw it in the bin where it belongs Wena

  • Tian Reyneke - 2013-09-27 15:51

    Lol why does a white dude have the knife.... Wasnt it black cops shooting black guys...

  • lulama - 2013-09-27 15:55

    Bloody attention seeker. This guy must come out and say he is a member of EFF once.

      Luks Jozi - 2013-09-27 15:56

      Or D.A

  • reggie.reginald.3110 - 2013-09-27 16:00

    I know women with bigger balls than "Douglas" inly scared it will cost him not to be up Zumas A$$.!!

  • Hasani Booysen Hlungwana - 2013-09-27 16:11

    Artist being limited to their creativity, for the fear of Zuma, . FNB was force to drop their Tv ad, now they drop the painting. . Zuma is bigger than his own head

      Luks Jozi - 2013-09-27 16:28

      FNB is running a business, not everyone who goes to FNB is a D.A or EFF member.

      Johnny Smith - 2013-09-27 17:09

      @Luks Jozi: simple solution. Do NOT go to FNB.

  • Rory Short - 2013-09-27 16:17

    "I felt that the art fair has a responsibility to the creative economy and the painting could compromise that.” I am saddened by Douglas's understanding of creativity. Creativity cannot flourish within an externally imposed straight-jacket of any kind. Perhaps that is why he appended the word 'economy' to creative because the removal of the Artist's work was driven by what he viewed as an economic constraint. If such economic constraints are operational in the Jo'burg Art Fair well and good but then to use the word creative in this context is inappropriate.

      Ioannis Condogiannis - 2013-09-27 17:52

      I personally think he means that people want to sell something and maybe having this attempt at attention seeking would focus all the media on this one painting (too late). Maybe they want to stop being starving artists?

  • Jairaj Chetty - 2013-09-27 16:27

    This is nothing but censorship. We are supposed to be living in a free country but it feels like a monarchy sometimes. FNB should be ashamed of itself.

      Al Loots - 2013-09-27 16:47

      This is a monarchy and Zuma acts nd lives like a king. This so-called democracy is a joke.

      Al Loots - 2013-09-27 16:48

      It just boils down to mob rule.

  • Al Loots - 2013-09-27 16:40

    Should paint him in a library trying to read a book.

  • David Brown - 2013-09-27 16:48

    Artists show solidarity remove your work from the show, disgusting censorship! David Brown

  • Matlhaba Bushupeng - 2013-09-27 17:08

    ANC democracy

      Hapyson Madiasi - 2013-10-01 12:14

      Panting is espirit of artist I want just to saiy artist exprime.artist painting HAPYSON NGWON MADIASI

  • Luyanda Zindela - 2013-09-27 17:24

    One thing that needs to be mentioned here is that there are other artists who are participating in this art fair. Artists who who depend on this art fair and other related events for their income. It is easy to get angry and criticize the organisers if you have a constant flow of income at the end of the month, the sad reality is that artists don't have this luxury,the sad truth is that artists can go for months without income,so events like this one can be crucial to the livelihood of an artist. While I don't agree with the censorship of any artwork, I believe that risking the cutting of funding and thus risking the income for all the other artists involved in the fair would have been a far more reckless decision. The organisers were place in a difficult position and had to choose the lesser of two evils. The right to artistic expression is very important, but due to capitalism, artist have to make a living just like everybody else. In a perfect world that artwork would have stayed up, but this is reality...

      Ioannis Condogiannis - 2013-09-27 17:54

      Basically looking after the interests of the many as opposed to those one attention seeker who will sell paintings by creating controversy

  • Ioannis Condogiannis - 2013-09-27 17:47

    I am curious, does anyone else find the inclusion of the Queen confusing? First time I hear she had something to do with Marikana, man this thing goes deep!! I do agree that he should "f*ck off from this country", we have enough bad artists and its time to export them. Norway needs some paintings of their president's thing I hear

  • Michael Mooketsi - 2013-09-27 18:08

    Dey must paint hm receiving a lucky parket doctorate 4rm Malaysia 4 being de most illiterate corrupt president of de century

  • Press Nosso - 2013-09-27 18:12

    Freeeeeeedom...2 express 1nself,I like the art I dnt see it harmful. The picture clearly dipicts tht our leaders r Puppets 2 please countries like america nd europe @ th expnse of south african,whether Black or White...we hav Cosatu,SACP nd th worst tri-part-aliance tht milk out th sweat nd blood nd south africans...nd m disgusted tht they alwys bring race card whn they hv 2 solve some pressing I dnt blame them,corrupt parasites.

  • BatongaBoro - 2013-09-27 19:49

    if only they could remove his, and i believe these are what they are supposed to be, speeches from public as easily as they do paintings of him and then maybe the exchange rate would not be so bad.

  • Paul Gaydon - 2013-09-27 21:41

    Censorship! Some art should be contravercial to make one reflect. Cry the beloved artist. This painting truly reflects our sick and paranoid society!

  • Michael Jaffee Moss - 2013-09-27 22:05

    I have tried to assemble some thoughts in the issue for my blog. Let me know what you think.

  • Melanie Diane Low - 2013-09-28 23:06

    Maybe Ayanda Mabulu should come overseas and do his paintings at least he will be given free rein to do his art and make an idiot of Zuma and the ANC internationaly.

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