Johannesburg: The South African Communist Party (SACP) has slammed a painting of their President Jacob Zuma with his genitals exposed, calling it “sadistic”.
The 1.85m-high painting titled The Spear is part of artist Brett Murray’s Hail to the Thief II exhibition at the Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg.
“The SACP is outraged at the insulting, disrespectful... disgusting, and sadistic so-called portrait of President Zuma by Brett Murray,” News24.com quoted spokesperson Malesela Maleka as saying in a statement.
“This portrait is deeply offensive and an extreme act of provocation to the overwhelming majority of our people. To us Brett Murray has simply crossed the line,” he said.
Maleka said the SACP condemned people who defended the portrait under the banner of freedom of expression.
“Freedom of expression has never meant freedom to insult and harm the dignity of another person,” he said.
Zuma’s daughter, Gugu Zuma, said in a statement to City Press on Sunday that the portrait was “vulgar and lacks any trace of humanity”.
“We do understand that he [Zuma] is a public figure, but this is no longer political and instead infringes on his rights as a human being.”
“As far as we are concerned, in our society it is only animals that stand naked, not human beings,” she said.
Zuma’s brother, Michael, told the Sunday Times that the portrait was disgusting and had brought nothing but disgrace to the family.
“It’s the most disgusting thing that has ever been published or said about the President.”
“As a family, we are still in shock, because in our culture the parading of private parts is something that is a shame and is considered as showing disrespect to that person and others,” he said.
The painting was widely condemned on Friday by, among others, Arts and Culture Minister Paul Mashatile, the presidency, the Congress of SA Trade Unions, the African Christian Democratic Party and the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union.
According to the Sunday Times, the painting had already been sold for 136,000 rand to a German buyer.