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South Africa: Another painting removed from gallery

18 April 2013

A painting depicting South African president Jacob Zuma and former president Nelson Mandela as whites and former heads of state Hendrik Verwoerd, John Vorster, PW Botha and FW de Klerk as blacks, was removed from an art exhibition in Nelspruit.

Kobus Myburgh's painting. Photo: courtesy of Beeld

The painting, created by Kobus Myburgh, was part of an exhibition scheduled to open at the Van Riebeeck Hall in Nelspruit, a city in eastern South Africa, on 22 April 2013, as part of the local municipality’s celebration of World Art Day, Beeld newspaper reported.

During an inspection of the exhibition, the council’s arts and culture head Themba Mona reportedly decided on the spot that Kobus Myburgh’s painting was ‘not suitable’ for public viewing, removed it and locked it in a storeroom.

The Freedom of Expression Institute issued a statement saying there seemed to be a trend by the government to censor freedom and artistic expression, and it found this to be ‘distasteful and regressive’:
“We… appeal for the reversal of this decision and for the painting to be restored at the gallery.”

The institute called for the protection of creative workers’ rights and their right to provoke debate and discussion, and it urged Themba Mona not to silence artistic expression.



Times Live – 15 April 2013:
Review decision to remove Zuma, Mandela as whites painting: institute
The Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI) called on Thursday for a review of a decision to remove a painting depicting President Jacob Zuma and former president Nelson Mandela as whites from an exhibition


Times Live – 15 April 2013:
White Zuma, Mandela painting rejected: report
A painting depicting President Jacob Zuma and former president Nelson Mandela as whites has been removed from an art exhibition in Nelspruit, it was reported on Monday.



Related content

Artsfreedom.org – 24 May 2012:
South Africa: Controversy over painting depicting president’s genitals
South African President Jacob Zuma and his African National Congress sought a court order to have a painting depicting the president’s genitals removed from an art gallery but two men took matters into their own hands by defacing the portrait with gobs of paint.


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