Jacob Zuma painting: ANC to sue South Africa's Brett Murray

Jacob Zuma (file photo) Jacob Zuma has lodged 11 law suits against local media houses

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South Africa's governing ANC says it will go to court after a gallery exhibited a painting with President Jacob Zuma's genitals hanging out.

Brett Murray's painting by is an "abuse of freedom of artistic expression" said ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu.

He said he had asked lawyers to get the Johannesburg gallery to remove the $14,000 (£9,000) painting, The Spear.

President Zuma, who has four wives, has sued local media companies 11 times for defamation.

The BBC's Mohammed Ali in Cape Town says some have been settled, other dropped, while most are outstanding.

The best-known case is a 2008 suit against one of the country's most high-profile artists, Zapiro, after he depicted Mr Zuma about to rape a female figure representing justice - this is due to be heard in October.

Mr Zuma was cleared of raping a family friend in 2006.


Murray, who our correspondent says is known for his political and provocative work, has not commented on the ANC statement.

Lara Koseff, spokeswoman of the Goodman Gallery, which is running Murray's Hail to the Thief II exhibition, defended the painting as "a very satirical look at contemporary South African politics... of the disillusion of democracy within the country".

"Our lawyers have written back to them saying we will not remove the painting," she told the AFP news agency

The 1.85m-high Soviet-style, red black and yellow acrylic painting has been sold.

Mr Mthembu said the ANC was committed to the freedom of the press and artistic expression but condemned the painting as "distasteful and vulgar".

He demanded that the painting be removed from the gallery, its website and all promotional materials.

Among the other exhibits is an ANC poster with the phrases For Sale and Sold on it, which Mr Mthembu also condemned as "defamatory".


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  • rate this

    Comment number 35.

    It's a good job the South African government has no pressing issues to deal with and can spend it's time worrying about a painting!

    Would they pay so much attention to the artist's pictures of the South African murder rate , political corruption or HIV / AIDS problems.

    I very much doubt it......

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    This will become an iconic picture in a few years, like many other subversive and controversial pictures down the years. Take, for example, the picture of the Queen with Swastikas over her eyes from the 70s. If Zuma was a smart man then he'd simply ignore it and let it blow over rather than bring more attention to it by throwing a tantrum. Besides, it's funny.

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    "...defended the painting as "a very satirical look at contemporary South African politics... of the disillusion of democracy within the country".

    I've seen this painting and it's nothing of the sort. It's a half decent comic strip portrait of Jacob Zuma which the artist then seems to have added his tackle to as some sort of drunken afterthought. It's bizarre.

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    I do not know if its cultural differences, but I find this to be in bad taste.Obviously the artist has his right of free speech but does it give licence to be rude and plain uncivil? An artist being sensationalist to make a sale. People's values are different world over and an appreciation of this fact is really needed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    Yes, Michael Angelo and those artists showed nudity of hypothetical persons and not of specific individuals. If you have to depict the nudity and specify it to an individual, you should take what comes out of it in terms of law suits. Freedom must be within the law.


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