The DA said on Friday that it had no interest in suing the artist who created a painting depicting DA leaders Mmusi Maimane, James Selfe and Helen Zille naked in a work of political satire suggesting Maimane is a slave of white people.
Maimane’s spokesperson Mabine Seabe said that the DA, unlike the ANC, supported and protected the rights of artists and they would not take legal action or march against the painting.
Seabe said they still felt the painting was distasteful, but they were too busy with campaigning ahead of Wednesday’s elections to be distracted.
Seabe said the painting illustrated a king of “apartheid mentality”.
He said Maimane was a DA leader, and not what Amali showed in his painting. The artist had explained that Maimane was “sweating” and that his “physique symbolisesd that of a slave who toils hard to bring South Africa back to the white DA leaders”.
He said he had “painted Maimane’s face lighter and his body darker because when he looks at himself in the mirror he sees a white person”.
He explained that Zille was revealed as having misled the world when she said she was stepping down as a political leader of the DA.
She was pretending, he said, as she wasn’t stepping down. Therefore, taking off the G-string was a metaphor to say she took off the leadership gown, but remained active in power.
Amali added that Selfe was worried, asking himself if this slave in front would bring South Africa back to them. The artist claimed that a person from the Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg – the same gallery that exhibited a painting depicting President Jacob Zuma’s private parts – allegedly rejected his own.
There were many mixed reactions on social media.
Siyamukela Ndaba wrote: “The conduct by the gallery confirms once again that South Africa is a country of double standards!” Thanduxolo Kume said: “This is a nice piece of art; everything drawn here, it’s the truth. Maimane is a puppet of the white DA.”
Denise van Biljon said: “Only an ugly, sick mind would create such a pornographic and disturbing piece of trash. I feel sorry for the people around you.”
Lauren Mayer: “So what other artwork does this Malawian artist have? Can’t go to a gallery to showcase only one piece of artwork?”
The Goodman Gallery also responded to the allegation that it did not want to display the painting because of its depiction “of naked white people”, according to Kenny Kunene, the painting’s owner.
The gallery invited the artist, 38-year-old Iven Amali, to submit his portfolio of work to them and they said would consider him in the same way they did all artists.
Kunene and the artist had accused the gallery of double standards after it stoically defended Brett Murray’s painting of a naked Zuma in 2012.
Amali alleged that gallery staff had earlier told him his painting was “too insulting”.
The painting sparked praise in some circles on social media on Thursday, while also generating shock and anger. Some questioned whether it might be an election gimmick, so close to election day on Wednesday.
In the work, Maimane is pictured as a slave pulling former party leader and Western Cape Premier Zille and the party’s federal chairperson, Selfe, on a rickshaw. All of them are naked.
You can read the artist’s comments on why he painted it here.
The comment is, rather obviously, that the older, white leaders, are hoping to be taken on an enjoyable ride by their black party leader. The fact that they’re naked is a clear form of payback at the numerous recent paintings depicting Zuma nude.