From Crown Jewels to Booty Calls

Written by Sandisiwe (Yogi) Shoba in Senior Editorial

Ayanda Mabulu has done it once again. The 35-year-old artist who painted the controversial Spear of the Nation artwork in 2012, depicting our president with his crown jewels on public display, has once again shown JZ in a less than favourable position. In his newest artwork, Zuma is portrayed in the cockpit of an aeroplane engaging in a sexual act with Atul Gupta, a member of the infamous Gupta family.

In this painted porno, we see our esteemed leader with his tongue out, unmistakably licking a willing Mr Gupta’s exposed behind. The painting, which is on display at Constitutional Hill in Johannesburg, is one of two artworks commenting on state capture. According to Mabulu, the intention of his artwork was to ‘expose the naked truth’ about the corrupt state of our country, in a graphic yet (in my opinion) somewhat humorous manner. 

Yet our hallowed president, who himself is quite privy to humour, didn’t take too kindly to being the butt of this joke. The Zuma clan felt ‘shocked, disturbed, disrespected and disgusted,’ and are looking into taking legal action against the outspoken artist.

Mabulu also stated that the artwork was aimed at the ‘masters who are controlling our president.’ In other words, it is addressing the cosy relationship which Zuma has with the Gupta family. The Guptas (who own Sahara computers and other companies) hold considerable financial power in South Africa and Zupta as they have now been ‘affectionately’ dubbed, have been, on more than one occasion, questioned about their dealings. 

Of course, this isn’t the first time Zuma has gotten into bed with a powerful businessman. Remember Schabir Schaik…? I’ll leave it there. 

In his painting, Mabulu depicts the Zupta plane headed on a collision course with another aircraft. The plane represents South Africa and the lewd sexual act represents the extent of apathy which Zuma has towards the country’s crisis.

If the Nkandla debacle is anything to go by, Zuma is indeed apathetic. But can you blame the man? Because it seems he gets away with everything. He reportedly spends an insane amount of public funds on upgrading his homestead and gets away with paying back a tiny fraction of those funds, and to top it all off, there wasn’t even an admission of guilt on his behalf. 

But in all honesty, I have very mixed feelings about the painting. I was initially shocked by the painting, which progressed into hysterical laughter when I noticed Gupta’s facial expression (he was enjoying it a little too much) which progressed into a level of deep disgust. 

Although I think it’s necessary to shock the public once in a while to get them to engage with critical social and political issues; I consider this painting a gratuitous display of sexuality. This is an attack on Zuma’s dignity (well, whatever’s left) and although he is a public figure, he still has constitutional rights. 

For both the Guptas and the Zumas, this sort of imagery can be borderline scarring, especially for the younger members of the families who should never have to see their elders in such a compromising position.

So although I’m a strong believer in artistic expression, especially the constitutional right to freedom of expression; this is where I draw the line. 

 

V

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