A controversial painting of South African president Jacob Zuma and former president Nelson Mandela depicted as Caucasian has been removed from an art exhibition in Nelspruit, according to Beeld, a local Afrikaans language daily newspaper.
The painting by South African artist Kobus Myburgh was supposed to show as part of an exhibition honoring World Art Day today in Mbombela, a city in eastern South Africa, according to Times LIVE. However, council arts and culture head Themba Mona reportedly deemed the artwork inappropriate for public viewing, and the contentious painting was promptly locked in a storeroom.
In the artwork, white versions of Zuma and Mandela are juxtaposed with former heads of state Hendrik Verwoerd, John Vorster, PW Botha and FW de Klerk, who are depicted as black. The artist explained the motivation behind the piece to Times LIVE:
"It is by no means a protest piece. There is a positive message, to show that we are actually all alike. That's why I called the painting Simunye -- the Zulu word for 'we are one'. We are and remain equal, regardless of the color of our skin."
This is not the first time a depiction of South Africa's president has stirred trouble, however; last year a work by Brett Murray entitled "The Spear" caused outrage when the artist rendered President Zuma as Lenin with exposed genitalia. Zuma called the work "vulgar" after seeing it, and the piece was defaced by a pro-Zuma fan.
What do you think about Myburgh's daring depiction? Did this artwork deserve to be removed from a World Art Day exhibition? Let us know your thoughts and, in the meantime, check out other shocking works of art in the slideshow below:
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