The Commisar’s Art Critique: Zuma’s Spear
By now anyone in South Africa without their head in the ground will have read about the controversial Brett Murray painting hanging limply (yes, I made that joke) in the Goodman Gallery in Joburg:
We can all understand why the ANC would be angry about the piece. I mean, the proportions are clearly WAY out, and I’m sure painting the Presidential member is always going to be a stiff issue amongst the ruling party.. Regardless, we’re all missing the fundamental problem with Murray’s work here. Place on the berets now…
… The majority of the painting is a crude copy of Lenin’s infamous poster during the 1917 Revolution (the first image)
Now. If we ignore the main thrust of Murray’s painting and focus on the other bits of the painting, there is a comparison, whether intentional or nay, to Lenin. I don’t think anyone with a smidgen of political science rattling around in their heads would liken Zuma to Lenin. One was the grandfather of Soviet Communist ideology as we know it, united a people and a party, and was an architect for society numbering in the hundreds of millions, if not billions if we include China, and the other had a rape trial, married lots of women, divided his party and split the people along political battle lines. The comparison implied by Murray is quite simply horrid. Although I suppose there is an argument to be made that both were responsible for removing otherwise-indifferent heads of state by forceful politicking, but somehow I suspect during all the cock-and-balls painting Murray was not paying attention to that.
Forget taking it down because its audacity offends the ANC. Take it down because its ignorance offends history.