The Spear divides the nation

2012-05-20 16:18

Johannesburg - Schoolchildren, high-powered businesspeople, fashionistas, grandparents – a 1.85m tall portrait of President Jacob Zuma has made them all art critics.

Joburg’s Goodman Gallery was packed on Friday and on Saturday as scores of people headed to the space on Jan Smuts Avenue to see the portrait that caused all the trouble.

Cars lined the streets outside the gallery and inside people stood in clusters around Brett Murray’s work.

Some ventured along corridors and into corners to see other pieces in the exhibition, titled Hail to the Thief II.

There were audible gasps and giggles.

Some people pointed and said, “I like this one”, while others shook their heads at the more audacious works.

Undoubtedly, though, the exhibition’s main attraction was The Spear – a portrait which, if the ANC has its way on Tuesday, will be removed.

Justice Minister Jeff Radebe believes it should be banned.

Curious visitors jostled for space alongside camera crews, and journalists armed with microphones and notebooks.

“It’s a bad piece of art,” said Philani Mdingi, arms folded across his chest.

“It’s ridicule disguised as art.

“When you look closer and piece the other pieces of the exhibition together, it starts to become a bit infuriating as it talks to post-colonial perceptions that have been ingrained about black people,” he said, citing a sculpture of an ape holding its genitals to prove his point.

“It’s quite hard-hitting, flabbergasting,” said Nombini Habangana, who visited the gallery during a one-day visit to Johannesburg from Bloemfontein.

“Like in a James Bond movie, it looks as if he’s about to pull a weapon out and the weapon looks like his phallus. It’s a bit disrespectful, considering he’s the president,” she said.

Others loved The Spear.

“It’s very brave and I’m impressed. It’s very clever – shocking – but I don’t think that’s a bad thing,” said Launa Doyle.

“I love it!” giggled Reba Wilderson, a little shyly.

“They have been asking for it. It’s what everybody has been saying. Everybody’s had their opinion, but one man decided to put it in pictures.”

She added, though, that she thought it was disrespectful and hoped the painting would be taken down “sooner rather than later; burned, and not seen or toured around South Africa”.

For others, the main attraction was a little underwhelming.

“It’s okay. I don’t think it’s worth the controversy, but I think that’s what he [Murray] wanted. He did this for the publicity. He’s going to sell a lot of work with this. It worked,” said Thomas Chapman, who described Murray as a “pop artist”.

“It’s quite a cheap shot, but it’s mostly funny.”

The gallery’s director, Liza Essers, rejected the idea that Murray’s work was racist.

“That is outrageous. [The work is] definitely not racist. The gallery is known for its art against apartheid through the 80s, fighting against the apartheid regime – as did Brett Murray,” she pointed out.

  • Herman - 2012-05-20 16:25

    The only thing dividing the nation is the criminal and incompetent anc regime.

      Frank - 2012-05-20 16:39

      So, Zoomer is now surely Umkhonto We Sixwe, The Spear of the Nation??

      Frank - 2012-05-20 16:44

      It also would explain why the armed wing of the ANC was as useless as they were! Normally a d!ck is of little use in a battle.........

      Paddy - 2012-05-20 17:49

      Agree. When he (or his prick) was in the press about rape, multiple marriages, showers, and dozens of fiances still to come (excuse the pun) he seemed quite happy about it. Does the painting make him angry because the appendage is too small, or is it possibly too big for his brooks?

      Sean - 2012-05-20 18:07

      @Herman Then vote them out then. Our FW De Klerk and co agreed to having Democracy and a new Constitution in South Africa. Don't tell me they didn't see this coming 20 years down the line to the extent that it has become under Zuma!No point in bitching about how incompetent and criminal the ANC is on webpages where nobody can do a ****ing thing about it. Its the ballot paper that decides who governs South Africa not some sad ramblings of an unhappy w***er. Here look at Europe and see what we do over here with incompetent and criminal governments: 1.Francois Hollande defeats French President Nicolas Sarkozy, becoming the first Socialist in 17 years to control Europe’s second-biggest economy. 2.Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte submits his resignation after failing to win parliamentary support for additional budget cuts needed to steer the Netherlands clear of the debt crisis. 3.Slovenian lawmakers reject Jankovic as premier. Slovenia’s parliament nominates Janez Jansa as the next prime minister. Slovenian lawmakers approve Jansa’s new government. 4.Silvio Berlusconi resigns after Italian lawmakers pass debt-reduction measures. Former European Commissioner Mario Monti prepares to lead a technical government charged with implementing the austerity measures.

      Sean - 2012-05-20 18:15

      continue... 5.Spain’s ruling Socialists suffer worst local election defeat in 30 years. People's Party leader Mariano Rajoy wins the biggest parliamentary majority in a Spanish election in more than a quarter-century. 6.Portugal’s Prime Minister Jose Socrates resigns after opposition rejects austerity package. Social Democratic and People’s Party win majority in Portuguese election, routing Socrates’s Socialists. 7.True Finns in Finland, who oppose euro bailouts, win 19 percent of the vote in Finnish elections. 8.Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico’s government fails to win a second term after voters, frustrated with corruption and rising debt, gave a majority to opposition parties. 9.Ireland holds general election, with the ruling Fianna Fail swept from power in the worst result in its history. 10.Merkel’s CDU loses control of Hamburg, Germany’s richest state, in the first of seven state elections.Merkel’s coalition is defeated in Baden-Wuerttemberg,which her CDU had controlled since 1952, as support for the Greens surged to a record.Merkel’s CDU wins 30.9 of the vote in the Northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein, its worst election result since 1950, setting the tone for a bigger contest in North Rhine-Westphalia. The main opposition Social Democratic Party has retained power or entered coalition governments in every state it’s contested since Merkel’s second term began in September 2009.

      carpejugulim - 2012-05-20 18:38

      Paddy, if he was that upset about "misrepresentation" he could have offered to pose

      Martin - 2012-05-21 07:52

      and still the uneducated anc only see the penis, not the comrade lenin pose,

  • Piet - 2012-05-20 16:29

    A verry funny story... Showa head or Dickhead.????

  • Bennie - 2012-05-20 16:33

    The ANC do not get Satire - they think respect is a given not earned !!!

      Bennie - 2012-05-20 21:20

      Chi- Coon-ga , you cannot read, race has nothing to do with it Mmmkay !!

  • lydonmcg - 2012-05-20 16:33

    I find it so funny how the ANC quite literally alerted everyone to the painting's existence through their own idiocy.

  • wanda.mpengu - 2012-05-20 16:35

    What is the age restriction?

  • Jennifer - 2012-05-20 16:37

    Mr Zuma, You don't care that millions of men women and children are raped, I don't care that you are embarrassed by a willy picture . You are a Bad leader. Bad.

  • Abrham - 2012-05-20 16:37

    my my, zuma has two showerheads!!!

  • mawethumawawa.madebe - 2012-05-20 16:37

    Crap artist, I think he's got a soft spot for da president.

      Paul - 2012-05-20 16:43

      For DA idiot above...its not a soft spot that should worry you, its a hard spot! Crappy comment idiot.

  • Amanda Mdoda - 2012-05-20 16:37

    Hate it or Like it, The Gallery got Gr8 publicity!

  • Kerrits - 2012-05-20 16:38

    The Streisand effect in action.

  • Ntobane Setabola - 2012-05-20 16:43

    The potrait ain't racial nor political neither about Pres. of S.Africa but bout Zuma n his private life of 'jolling' widows so I suggest ANC and goverment pull out their noses outer the issue...Zooma's shouldn't b ashamed about that potrait but allulate at it as they do to his many girlfriends n wives

  • Jacques - 2012-05-20 16:46

    I love this- isn't that the whole point of art? To cause debate? Split opinion? I say pour another glass of red and spare a thought of appreciation that an art gallery is being filled by normal people. Hail to the thief, indeed.

  • Saleé - 2012-05-20 16:48

    Well, it may be art and some people may love it, but it surely is no master piece. As an art lover myself, I think I have seen far better pieces in a first-year art class. While the likes of Da Vinci will be remembered for genuine beauties like *insert art piece*, it is interesting that an artist would wish to be remembered for creating the likeness of a not-so-good-looking president, with his genitals hanging out. Having said that, I am all for self-expression, no matter how poor a work of art resulting from that might be.

  • ntjeke.wilfred - 2012-05-20 16:49

    Auction the painting i bet Malema and Thabo Mbeki will like to invest

  • melania.nel - 2012-05-20 16:52

    I don't understand why apartheid needs to brought into this. How do you go from a painting to decades of suffering? What do you think of Ayanda Mabula and his painting of a naked Zuma? I hate this type of art and to all you uninformed people who think this is racist, take a tour on the internet and do your research on controversial art before making irresponsible comments on this blog.

  • Junju Juice Machaba - 2012-05-20 16:55

    well..i think its degrading to even witness such a portrait of our president..couldnt he atleast waited for Zuma to step down?

  • howard.komati - 2012-05-20 16:56

    Do u think Murray was going to make a portrait like tht if Juju was still on good terms wth the President? Zuma is sorrounded by people who laugh behind his back. They just saying ag naye why abafazi abangaga?

      Themba - 2012-05-20 18:26

      It is his Constitutional Right to have as many wives as he want.

  • Aubrey - 2012-05-20 16:58

    The spear divides the nation, I don't think so . Viva Mshini wami viva.

      francois.swanepoel - 2012-05-20 21:33

      the real spear should embrace us as south africans

  • Charles-Bronson - 2012-05-20 16:59

    Blame the corrupted goverment for thier own action. Most people in this country believe this is the worst president ever with the coruppted goverment ever. The nation is only devided by those wo support the goverment thiefs or those that support free corupted goverment.

  • jimzimbo - 2012-05-20 17:02

    Deep down Zuma and the current custodians of the ANC organisation have and contuinue tb be exposed as interllectualy and morally shallow.

      Themba - 2012-05-20 20:04

      Well, my friend ANC is a political organization and is measured by its politics and not morals which are subjective and depend on one's background.

  • mike.clery - 2012-05-20 17:09

    "The Spear divides the nation". You forgot to add "mostly on ethnic/cultural lines, which in SA equates to race". And we *need* that? If it served the purpose of getting people to understand different points of view, that would be positive. But if the comments on News24 are any indication, it's had the opposite effect.

  • Joseph - 2012-05-20 17:10

    A man who marries and gets divorced now and then should expect this

      chikunga - 2012-05-20 17:47

      check what happens to your celebrities in hollywood.

  • Paul - 2012-05-20 17:11

    I would make this the artwork on my business card if my name was Zuma!

  • lenny001 - 2012-05-20 17:13

    Just as I thought, all those who like the picture are whites!

      Dee - 2012-05-20 17:23

      Lenny - before you turn this into a racist issue : Would you care to comment on Ayanda Mabulu's painting : And BTW - I don't 'like' the painting, but respect artistic expressionism and the intellectual content of this horrible picture.

      jimzimbo - 2012-05-20 17:25

      You will find that you are very mistaken...

      nettie.potgieter.5 - 2012-05-20 18:02

      No all those who like the picture are people who are feedup with the fact that Zuma is behaving in a very bad way and that he and his cronnies don't care about the people of the country. Open you eyes and see reality. If you vote for a new president find someone with integrity and you will see al SA wil be behind him Please take of your racist glasses

      jon.poole2 - 2012-05-20 20:20

      Hey Lenny, let me in on how you can tell who has liked a comment, I haven't worked that one out yet.

  • michael.rampatla - 2012-05-20 17:15

    the genetials that are on that picture are from the artist's father not our president

  • ReaperAJ - 2012-05-20 17:17

    I believe that if the presidency wasn't guilty of that which it stands accused, ie; corruption, thievery and inadequacy, this painting would simply be a minor event. The fact that they are all so outraged says something, that being, "I'm embarrassed because I'm guilty!" Instead of being so outraged Zuma, take a look at what the majority of your nation is saying about you, how they feel about you and do something about it. Fix your country and run it properly!

  • bongani.mtsweni.35 - 2012-05-20 17:23

    in your comments,I can see most people of a certain race don't have brains but have helmets with vacuum underneath.shame to those who sees nothing wrong about this painting.I wonder what they would have said if it was their father in this painting.

      JaredVN - 2012-05-20 17:29

      Well if my father behaved in such a shameful way - 6 wives and counting, affairs, multiple children, taking bribes from Shaik - I would be ashamed of him anyway, painting or no painting.

      chikunga - 2012-05-20 17:48

      honestly for comment you gonna get a thousand thumps downs

      Koos - 2012-05-21 05:50

      If my father behaves like zoomer I would be disappointed with him.

  • Christopher Madala - 2012-05-20 17:31

    it is just the right target fro the wrong shooter as the nation sees it.lets analyse and evaluate the message, not to ask who draw it.what will people draw of u,mandela,obama or me.u gut wat u sow.lets change our characters and good pictures will come our way

      ntjeke.wilfred - 2012-05-20 17:44

      nothing but the truth abuti,mfowethu

  • Piston - 2012-05-20 17:37

    Sigh...and if it were a black artist?

  • Kagiso Tlhakung - 2012-05-20 17:41

    It shows white ppl will always stand up for each other...even if a white guy beats a black guy to death they will feel sorry for the white guy en say the black guy asked for it. Our black ppl on the other hand think they are white...they believe every white crap they hear. Zille used them to fight her dirty battle en score political points last week. My fellow blacks pls lets stand up together en say NO to the disrespecting of our president. Murray is wrong en should be censored from nw on...or even jailed for bringing this country to the brink of civil war. The ANC should introduce a law to fight racism

      chikunga - 2012-05-20 17:54

      there is reactive racism, thats not racism perse.anything tht the black man touches is so bad from these guyz. we definately see the flaws with the ANC but its the attitude on these forums that just makes one very sick.

      Fairness - 2012-05-20 18:43

      Assumptions started 3 of the 5 last wars in the past 100 years. What you're saying here is that all whites are like this. Comments like these upsets me deeply, as much as you get upset with the racist comments by some. Don't assume that everyone is bad. When making comments like this point out the culprits, don't be part of te problem. There are good people out there that look past colour I'm your case and mine.

      silvia.vaneck2 - 2012-05-21 07:44

      Will you also stand up against corruption and tender fraud committed by so many in the governing party? When Malema and the ANCYL publicly belittled Zuma where were you then?

  • Kagiso Tlhakung - 2012-05-20 17:50

    Even if i dont support polygamy its part of African culture. Our Presidents rights shouldn't be undermined jst coz he has many wives. How many white prostitutes are out there??Now do u see us drawing their privates en putting them on public platform jst bcoz they cant keep their panties on?? Or do u see prisoners genitals been exposed jst bcoz they stole or killed?? Dont disrespect our President especially as he has neva being found guilty of any crime, dnt believe here-say from newspapers trying to make a quick buck.

      Koos - 2012-05-21 05:53

      Are you saying zoomer is a prostitute? You can't find someone guilty if they dont' want to have their day in court.

  • Sean - 2012-05-20 17:52

    I know western democracy allows for freedom of this and freedom of that and all kinds of other freedoms,that's why people vote for such luxuries. But is this the height of vulgarity and obscene jesting or could it become even worse than this in days,weeks,months and years to come? At least we can't now say that only stereotypical black people are barbaric. Even some of us white folks that enjoyed every minute of this man's humiliation are equally barbaric as our neighbours on the African continent. Shouldn't you al least get a written release from a person or get his/her approval first before you display their genital or any other body part anywhere whether it be on television,movies,photography or as in this instance a painting?

  • Mukwevho - 2012-05-20 18:01

    Brett Murray art at Goodmans Gallery is a shame to the whole nation. I think Murray didnt think about it before he put his art on display. Good people, let us learn to think about the aftermath of our doings before taking any action into practice. The bible warns us about useless Godless talks. It says they result in quarels and cause divisions among the people. The way you say and do things displays the real you. 2 Thimothy 2:15-23. Respect is the root of the life of all good people. May God inspire us with His word when we read it. Amen!

  • mzuvukile.mbanjana - 2012-05-20 18:01

    The truth is, we have adopted western cultures and its distasteful laws and made them our own. If we chose to live by western standards, we must be prepared accept its evils. You cannot talk of african values, When living in \western world\.We have to chose whether we live by African values or Western values.0ur constitution is too much western oriented, exceeding western countries' constitution. We have to re look the question of Bill of rights and the rights contained in it. Some of these rights are conflicting and there is no right super ceding them and some are disgusting.

      Bruce Johnston - 2012-05-20 20:01

      Well said

      Thabisoul Motsome - 2012-05-20 20:17

      Mayibuye i Africa!!

      Koos - 2012-05-21 05:55

      I think black women prefer western culture/laws. Now they have rights too and are no longer sex object(except for zoomer).

  • Mukwevho - 2012-05-20 18:01

    Brett Murray art at Goodmans Gallery is a shame to the whole nation. I think Murray didnt think about it before he put his art on display. Good people, let us learn to think about the aftermath of our doings before taking any action into practice. The bible warns us about useless Godless talks. It says they result in quarels and cause divisions among the people. The way you say and do things displays the real you. 2 Thimothy 2:15-23. Respect is the root of the life of all good people. May God inspire us with His word when we read it. Amen!

      Dave - 2012-05-20 18:44

      so did the critics of the rest of the great artists say, the bible warns us of real evils Zuma is a real evil

  • Gerhard1Marais - 2012-05-20 18:14

    Blah blah blah

  • michael.rampatla - 2012-05-20 18:20

    it is pity our president have been striped naked in the name of freedom of speech and art, and we still have people who are supporting the fact that the picture must'nt be removed from the gallary. is that nation building?

  • Koos - 2012-05-20 18:23


      Rabble-Rouser - 2012-05-20 18:36

      Vavi doesn't have a prominent bump at the top back part of his head. You know, the part where the shower head fits. So it can only be Zuma.

      Xulu.Thulany.Xaba - 2012-05-20 22:35

      ;-) DID THE ARTIST SAY IT IS Vavi?

  • sean.lowery.718 - 2012-05-20 18:30

    hahaha, well i guess one penis can divide a country? I wouldnt say im against it, legally- there is no basis for the banning this painting( sure the ANC and comrades will ensure this kind of thing gets included in a new bill somewhere, or added to info bill?)the ANC could have saved itself the trouble and just bought it and gotten it over and done with? their reaction has turned this painting into a media sensation

  • Fairness - 2012-05-20 18:35

    Don't let the racists drag you down. There are more good then bad people out there, recognise that it only takes one idiot to start a war with idiot to make a racist comment and it all starts. Read their posts and pity them, rise above them and don't respond to them. It's all about reaction. \N3w5twentyfour\ flourishes on these comments. Instead comment to make them look stupid and not each other.

  • Dave - 2012-05-20 18:40

    Zuma, take heed, no one feels sorry for you, if this minute segment feels like this what does the majority feel?

  • Fourhundredkg - 2012-05-20 19:03

    Cut it off, I say. Cut it off.

  • 1amAlan - 2012-05-20 19:32

    Actually, I wish this whole saga would disappear now completely. I think the painting should be taken down and these reports can stop, as I can't resist the urge to read the one liners. Got to say I've never laughed so hard as I did at these forums. The gallery should say thanks to the ANC for the exposure(no pun intended). Well done to the ANC and the Zuma clan, you ensured that this whole saga went viral.

  • Clayton Richard Delport - 2012-05-20 19:33

    Why is that painting from that black artist not mentioned on news? I heard its worse than the white guys? It seems your culture loves to cry racist and blame everybody but the actual party who waisted millions and millions while talking to you about economic freedom, while they drive there bmws to there suburb homes, it's actually very funny that each and every one of you could have a house, could have water, electricity, just by making a better choice of character. Your blinded by your hatred for white people while your leaders rob you blind! How much was malemas house before he broke it down? In the millions? What about the spy boss's hotel in the north coast? The millions lost on tender fraud? No, it's easier to blame a small minority group that has nothing to do with running this country, viva corruption? Viva unemployment? Viva Amanda!

      Clayton Richard Delport - 2012-05-20 19:40

      And I only say your culture because not all black people have those views! I am far from racist and my little adopted brother is the most precious kid you would ever meet, I'm proud to say he won't grow up with your hatred for white people or any other culture.

      Successful Nhlamulo Mabilane - 2012-05-20 20:33

      yeah neh is this J Zuma? or he looks like JZ...Zuma please sit down stop wasting tax money in banning and taking the artist to legal team please ignore this idiotic behaviour and live your life Mr President please

  • Daan - 2012-05-20 19:38

    Nou waaroor huil die Prez dan nou eintlik? Ek sou gelaaik het as iemand 'n prentjie van MY sou teken met so 'n lekker groot voël. Hy moet dit as 'n kompliment beskou.

  • Etienne - 2012-05-20 19:57

    Does not even look like zuma. What is all the fuss about?

      Liana Burgers - 2012-05-20 20:59

      this is just a rude and comin! how would he feel if someone does that to him?? i am not into politics at all! people have just got no respect for a human life at all these days!

  • Seena - 2012-05-20 20:28

    art hmn..then lets see more art about the savagery that has been happening to africans since 1652, let it all hang out ya more art brett...

  • Tshepo - 2012-05-20 20:41

    Brett shows that distintion he got in masters of fine arts was no fluke,but he did it in a wrong way,and he divided the rainbow nation and turnish the image of goodman gallery.

  • themba.ntuli - 2012-05-20 20:53

    The anc has already lost the battle if they view this painting in such a way as to taking it to court. the damage has already been done. by going to court tuesday they are adding gasoline to an inferno because such a route will attract more attention from the press and the public, if the courts decides to grant an interdict i don't see how its going to be enforced because most major news outlets have already shown the piece around the world plus the monster machine that is the internet how are they going to censor it, just let it pass and dissapear on itself dont go for courts you are making the situation worse boys.

  • Joseph - 2012-05-20 21:26

    The spear of africa divides the nation, shame the spear must take a shower again.