Spear painting was vulgar, says Zuma

2012-12-14 12:42

Johannesburg - President Jacob Zuma has described Brett Murray's controversial painting The Spear, in which he was depicted as Lenin with his genitals exposed, as "rather vulgar".

Zuma was speaking to The Guardian in a wide-ranging interview about the state of South Africa.

He observed that South Africans had differing opinions about the painting, which led to supporters marching to the Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg in May in protest against the artwork. Two protesters later defaced the painting.

"There will be individuals who think differently. I don't think in a country you can have people thinking and feeling exactly the same. I think it is [that] people have got their own ideas, they want to express them. I might have a view about it, but some people might have a different view about it.

"I thought it was rather vulgar," Zuma said. "Particularly if you portray a particular person [that way], but of course I think the population did express itself at that time, which will tell you it is not everybody who approved of it. I think in fact the majority did not approve of it… Some white people, for example, thought that was not helpful to deal with the race issue in the country."

The painting led to a national debate on art, censorship and race. It was widely condemned, including by Cabinet, which said it was an insult to Zuma's dignity, office and culture.

The Film and Publication Board imposed a 16N rating on the painting, which it later removed.


  • tiaan.truter - 2012-12-14 12:48

    Zuma and the ANC ruling is "rather vulgar".

      lionel.armstrong.77 - 2012-12-14 12:58

      but isn't that the point of's an expression of reality, implying you are vulgar! we DO NOT live in a democracy, call it what you like but lets not fool ourselves here!

      debduplessis - 2012-12-14 13:00

      as VULGAR as the man himself! ... the painting therefore is a true reflect of self therefore a precise work!

      ianon.ym - 2012-12-14 13:24

      Only after it was defaced was it - Vulgar.

      gert.swart.393 - 2012-12-14 13:27

      That painting was vulgar!

      kortbroek.duplessis - 2012-12-14 13:55

      I find Zuma blatantly in contempt of court rather vulgar. WHERE ARE THE SPY TAPES?

  • bullardx - 2012-12-14 12:49

    LOKl>*through the course of the year. Finally you say something about your paintin*at the end???...GOsh but you tooo slow*

      rofras.rassie - 2012-12-14 12:52

      Dnt be stupid man, he is answering a question.

      bullardx - 2012-12-14 13:59

      Its his 1st response ever towards da painting Im refferin to Idiot:p... doesnt matter if he was asked or not

  • hugo.lategan - 2012-12-14 12:51

    Zuma is not my choice. Not now or ever! However, have we not lost our decorum as a country when this type of thing is justified as art? I couldn't care less what other countries do or have done in this regard. Let's return to a basic dignity.

      OwenCPT - 2012-12-14 13:45

      Art is subjective. Therefore what you think is art, others might not, and vice versa. That doesn't mean that it isn't art...

      lionel.armstrong.77 - 2012-12-14 13:53

      it's body forced you to look at it! you don't have to like it, it wasn't commissioned for your approval! believe it or not this is a free world (maybe not that sure anymore), we don't have to all like what you like and there was a buyer for the painting. maybe you're the type of person who hangs around outside the adult porn shops protesting and making a big scene!

  • lionel.armstrong.77 - 2012-12-14 12:55

    yes, maybe! but so appropriate!

  • grant.logan.94 - 2012-12-14 12:55

    So what does he call spending hundreds of millions of tax payers money on Nkandla? I think vulgur is too nice a word to describe Zuma's attitude towards the people of South Africa.

  • aspruyt - 2012-12-14 12:58

    A bit slow there aren't we Zoomer?

      debduplessis - 2012-12-14 13:23

      Yip .... he is just trying to rally support on same media release he issued several months ago BUT alas he forgot how it all back fired on him then .... and the same is happening again :))))) I guess this is what happens when you only have a standard 3 education (Grade 5)

  • debduplessis - 2012-12-14 12:59

    as vulgar as the man himself!

  • Jane - 2012-12-14 13:07

    oh please mr "president" the way you conduct your life with your multiple wives and colony of children and squander the taxpayers money to look after them is a disgrace! The painting was rather fitting, shows what part of your body you think with!

  • asdhasgd - 2012-12-14 13:12

    I think the ANC in general is "rather vulgar", like that bad aftertaste when you eat a pizza from Mimmos. that flavour.

  • corrupt.anc.3 - 2012-12-14 13:13

    You need intellect to appreciate art

  • glen.e.huysamer - 2012-12-14 13:13

    The pot and a kettle.....and the one said?

  • John - 2012-12-14 13:16

    Take a shower after a rape session to prevent aids is vulgar. SPEAR is appropriate to the person!

  • kevin.draper.391 - 2012-12-14 13:16

    Ripping off and stealing from your own people is Vulgar Mr President. You the last person who should be calling anyone vulgar!!!!

  • themba.thwala.775 - 2012-12-14 13:18

    The painting gave you an opportunity to look at yourself in the mirror Zuma. Please also refrain from distorting culture to justify your philandering ways. No black culture permits your type of culture.

      kia.brown.186 - 2012-12-14 14:05

      you should run for President Mr Thwala :-)

  • J.Stephen.Whiteley - 2012-12-14 13:21

    Easy to treat this as water under the bridge. The artist is sick.

  • Dogmaticmad - 2012-12-14 13:25

    Are we going down the sympathy route just before election time again as usual. What zuma ia saying is very true. Not all of the nation approve the way the government express and depict itself with regard to corruption, ethics etc. The nation does not feel and express itself as a proud nation in a similar manner the government does especially if they treat it tax money as their own private bank account.

  • gawie.gatvol - 2012-12-14 13:26

    The painting was wrong from the beginning, I mean the painter should have changed hes face with his genitals and his genitals with hes face cos there are no real differance realy.

  • gert.swart.393 - 2012-12-14 13:27

    That painting was vulgar!

      Billy - 2012-12-14 13:42

      that was the point of it...

      kortbroek.duplessis - 2012-12-14 13:53

      Yes because a white guy painted it, but the other painting similar with Zuma's spear sticking out,which was painted by a black guy; no not a word about that.

      lionel.armstrong.77 - 2012-12-14 14:00

      I wish they would have spray painted it onto the Union Buildings! don't you get it?! people are disgusted with Zuma - that's the whole point of the painting, it's a metaphor for how perverted his rule over the country is! you can't exactly compare it to a still life of "sun flowers on a coffee table" painting!

      audrey.gono.3 - 2012-12-14 14:10

      that is totally vulgar

  • isabelle.menzies - 2012-12-14 13:28

    What is rather vulgar is spending over R260 millions rand on a house when the majority of South Africans have no running water.............

      manqoba.zulu.54 - 2012-12-14 13:45

      As if you care

  • vernon.samuel.7 - 2012-12-14 13:30

    Vulgar is having sex with your friend's young daughter when you already have multiple wives and sleeping partners. Twat!!!

  • audrey.gono.3 - 2012-12-14 13:30

    this is totally against our african culture I do support you 0 mr president

      grant.logan.94 - 2012-12-14 13:35

      You can pay tax on my behalf audrey. Because I most certainly do not want to support his lifestyle.

      lionel.armstrong.77 - 2012-12-14 14:23

      yeah Audrey, you can pick up my tab too! Cancel my subscription! You should decide what world you want to live in...the traditional African world, herding cattle, or the modern civilized world!

      audrey.gono.3 - 2012-12-14 14:30

      yeah its a modern and civilized world but its not about painting 16N arts in our own motherland africa

      lionel.armstrong.77 - 2012-12-14 14:41

      I support you going to jail Mr President!

      audrey.gono.3 - 2012-12-14 14:54

      @kenny we're not about his sexual relations that's his private life understand

  • John - 2012-12-14 13:32

    Corruption and graft , money laundering and NKANDLA ripoff is VULGAR!

      Deon de Lange - 2012-12-14 14:23


  • John - 2012-12-14 13:37

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The painting is beautiful!

      lionel.armstrong.77 - 2012-12-14 14:27

      They should put in up in every single government office in the country! ...look everyone, look at your leader, he rules the country making decisions with his little head!

  • rob.gunning.1 - 2012-12-14 13:37

    Zuma is vulgar

  • provence.poppies - 2012-12-14 13:42

    grow up and get over it you pr-ck

  • OwenCPT - 2012-12-14 13:43

    Zumba, your cavorting is vulgar. Plus, why do you say it has race attached to it? Why must you guys always apply race to a touchy issue?

  • SarelJBotha - 2012-12-14 14:11

    Vulgar maybe, but as it was meant to show a vulgar truth, it had to look vulgar.

  • kia.brown.186 - 2012-12-14 14:12

    Atleast the artist did'nt give him a small ....I thought it was rather a nice painting and depicted him for what he is... a Prick.. sorry mr President, but this is suppose to be a democrazy country, which means freedom of speech and so on...

  • jason.marshall.1804 - 2012-12-14 14:31

    It looks like Zuma can only understand pictures. I least Brett Murray tried his best to help out Zuma with his problem.

  • gemma.vandermerwe - 2012-12-14 14:40

    Spending over R200 million on a house is rather vulgar

  • steve.gibson.146612 - 2012-12-14 14:47

    The way you are shafting the nation is "VULGAR"

  • korina.karagiannakis - 2012-12-14 14:52

    Are we seriously still on about this? people are dying, starving, murdered and we are on about this?? Disappointing indeed !!

  • avanwyk2 - 2012-12-14 15:30

    At last.....he got it!! How many months later! Well done!

  • pgmdesouza - 2012-12-14 17:18

    It was a low blow, there are depths you just don't sink to when you have a problem with someone. There are other ways of airing your anger other than resulting to impish tactics used by playground bullies. He may not have done it physically but Brett pulled Mr. Zuma's pants down and this puts the former's psychological state and maturity in question.

  • winifred.watson.9 - 2012-12-14 17:43

    Vulgar thats what we thought of you and all your shenanigans with the HIV lady then later fathering a child with your friends daughter. We term that vulgar.

  • mbambo.shi - 2012-12-14 18:49

    VULGAR is not the picture, but rather the goop drawned by Brett Murray.

  • annie.israel.50 - 2012-12-15 14:31

    Zuma just does not realise how much he is disliked. He has a vulgar personality and hated by most south africans - South Africa is not a democratic country as it is ruled by a communist party !!

  • bryan.coulter.180 - 2013-01-20 12:19

    Having the I.Q. of a Parktown prawn and trying to run a country is rather vulgar too.

  • godwin.symons - 2013-01-20 12:56

    The only thing vulgar in this scenario is you Mr Zuma. You are a vile excuise of a human beeing, that is if you are human at all. With all of your so called wives and children that you breed as if they are pets, you are nothing but vulgar yourself. In fact, I would go so far as to say you are disgusting. You seem to attempt to do nothing to try and gain or retain credibility. By the way, I suppose you will also say the statue of David is also vulgar?

  • Tracey Johnson - 2013-04-03 12:08

    Is there nothing more important than a stupid painting

  • Stephen Raubenheimer - 2013-09-05 13:42

    Now how about a similar painting of Vavi!!!

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