Dunoon artist Ayanda Mabulu has once again got social media fired up after unveiling a new painting, #Zupta State Capture, depicting President Jacob Zuma performing analingus on Atul Gupta in an aircraft cockpit.
The painting, which also features the ANC flag in the foreground, was displayed at Constitution Hill in Johannesburg last week, and received more exposure than the ANC municipal election posters, as comments about whether the portrayal of Zuma performing the sex act was abusing the right to freedom of expression were debated on Twitter.
Benny Motjopye @mmotjopye said: “The recent painting by #AyandaMabulu is a clear depiction of disrespect and abuse of freedom of speech. The young man must be taken to task.”
@LittleMsMercy said: “I find JZ’s violation of constitution, and Nkandla theatrics, far more ‘disgusting’ than #AyandaMabulu art.”
Helga Steyn @HelgaMariaSteyn said: “Seems the #truth is hard to swallow for many. We need more eye-opening pieces like this! #AyandaMabulu.”
Lumumba @MasterSoxx: “We blatantly rendering our democracy useless if tolerate people like #AyandaMabulu to abuse it.”
Some questioned whether the artist was funded by the opposition, and fake news about Mabulu being shot and killed in Soweto was published on social media.
The artist, who is busy moving between his home in Dunoon and his residence in Johannesburg, spoke to Tabletalk about the heat generated by his art, saying his intention with the Gupta work had been to spark the very response it elicited.
“The meaning of the painting is simple: it’s concerning what he (President Zuma) is doing to the country and how our country will crash like a plane because of what he is doing. All the citizens of the country will become victims.
“I don’t think there is anything wrong with portraying the president the way I did. It is my constitutional right. I did nothing wrong. I just portrayed him as he is. If he were a better president, I would paint him on a throne, reading a book to children, but he is not,” said Mabulu.
He believes President Zuma has failed his people through his connection with the Gupta family and the development of Nkandla, and he said the ruling party should stop trying to tell people to vote for them simply because they had “set the people free”.
“We live in times of turbulence, and it’s time we take extreme measures when confronting issues. There is no other way I could’ve portrayed this. If I portrayed politicians in a more polite way, they wouldn’t think of changing their actions.
“This way the image will stay with them and hopefully influence them to want to change that image,” said Mabulu.
ANC national spokesman Zizi Kodwa said in a statement that members of the public had expressed justifiable anger at Mabulu’s works.
He said Mabulu had abused the right to freedom of speech and violated the president’s right to dignity, which the Bill of Rights guaranteed for all regardless of their position in society.
“In our hard-won democracy, it should not be that artistic licence should trump or be used as an excuse to trample on the human rights of others.
“Mabulu’s exhibition is a grotesque act of vulgarity and disrespect; and a blatant violation of the right to dignity of those portrayed,” said Mr Kodwa.