South Africa gallery won’t display Zuma painting

May 31st, 2012 - 3:24 pm ICT by IANS  

London, May 31 (IANS) After reaching a deal with the ruling ANC party, a South African art gallery has agreed not to display a controversial painting of President Jacob Zuma which shows him with his genitals exposed, the BBC reported here.

The painting has sparked fierce debate about the balance between freedom of expression and the right to dignity. Hundreds of African National Congress (ANC) supporters protested outside the gallery Tuesday.

The painting, The Spear, was defaced last week. It will also be removed from the Goodman Gallery’s website, according to the BBC Wednesday.

Under the deal, the ANC has agreed to drop its legal action demanding that the gallery remove the painting from its exhibition and the website.

The red, yellow and black acrylic painting showing Zuma and echoing Soviet images of Lenin was taken down after it was covered in red and black paint.

On Monday, South Africa’s City Press newspaper said it was removing the image of the painting from its website following threats by the ANC.

In a news conference, Goodman Gallery director Liza Essers said: “I believe in the right to freedom of expression and the South African constitution.”

“Brett (Murray, the artist) is very saddened by the hurt that the painting has caused,” she said.

The ruling party said the painting was “rude, crude and disrespectful” towards President Zuma and wants all images of the painting online and elsewhere taken down.

In an affidavit served on the City Press newspaper, Zuma said: “The portrait depicts me in a manner that suggests I am a philanderer, a womaniser and one with no respect,” according to the BBC.

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

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