JOHANNESBURG, May 18 – A portrait of President Jacob Zuma posing as Lenin with his genitals hanging out has sparked outrage in South Africa, but the gallery on Friday refused demands from the ruling ANC to take it down.
Zuma’s African National Congress has demanded that the private gallery in Johannesburg pull down the “distasteful and vulgar” portrait by satirical artist Brett Murray.
But the gallery won’t budge.
“They (the ANC) feel its so-called depiction of our president has been defamation towards his character. Our lawyers have written back to them saying we will not remove the painting,” Goodman Gallery spokeswoman Lara Koseff told AFP.
The red-yellow and black painting titled “The Spear” depicts Zuma mimicking a pose by Lenin in a Soviet era propaganda poster, but with his penis exposed.
The polygamous president generated national debate when he married his fourth current wife last month. He has 21 children, including several out of wedlock.
The ANC said it is “extremely disturbed and outraged by the distasteful and indecent manner in which Brett Murray and the Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg is displaying the person of comrade President Jacob Zuma”.
Koseff said the collection was “a very satirical look at contemporary South African politics… of the disillusion of democray within the country”.
The Congress of South African Trade Unions said it was “disgusted at the demeaning portrait”.
“This picture is offensive and disrespectful not only to an individual but to the democratically elected president of South Africa and therefore to the whole country and the people of South Africa,” said the fiery labour movement.
A promotional flyer describes Murray’s collection as “acerbic attacks on abuses of power, corruption and political dumbness” and “attempts to humorously expose the paucity of morals and greed within the ruling elite.”