President Jacob Zuma has asked the South African High Court to issue an order preventing the display of a painting that depicts him with clearly visible genitals. The painting has since been defaced by an outraged sympathiser who described it as “disrespectful”. The painting, entitled The Spear, is no longer on display at the gallery but images on the web continue to cause offence.
In a legal affidavit, President Zuma said that the painting “has the effect of impugning my dignity in the eyes of all who see it. In particular, the portrait depicts me in a manner that suggests that I am a philanderer, a womaniser and one with no respect.”
The painting, by Brett Murray, went on display in a Johannesburg gallery this month as part of an exhibition of his work called ‘Hail to the Thief II’.
The African National Congress called the show “an abuse of freedom of artistic expression”.