‘Rasta’ joins Twitter: ‘People have mixed feelings about my paintings’

Lebani 'Rasta' Sirenje's depiction of late legend Oliver Mtukudzi. Picture: Twitter. (@mathandancube)

Lebani 'Rasta' Sirenje's depiction of late legend Oliver Mtukudzi. Picture: Twitter. (@mathandancube)

The artist, whose work is so often skewered on Twitter, has now joined the platform.

Lebani ‘Rasta’ Sirenje, the portrait artist often mocked on Twitter for his takes on famous people – often painted as tributes after their death – has joined the platform himself.

The artist, who has since confirmed the account is not a fake in a YFM interview, earned over 7,000 followers at the time of going to print. He appears to have signed up on January 25.

‘Rasta’ has tweeted several times so far, and has also RTed several tweets either supportive of his work or of the view that the artist should be left alone and spared the often merciless criticism his work gets on the platform.

One of the tweets RTed by the artist emphasise that he has feelings and calls on Twitter users to stop the bullying.

Over the weekend, the artist was roasted for his take on late Zimbabwean musical icon Oliver Mtukudzi. While some laughed about his painting, others seemed genuinely aggrieved by it, claiming his depiction was disrespectful.

Previously, people on Twitter had expressed their view that the artist should be called on not to paint the jazz legend, who passed away last week, on January 23.

Sirenje’s most recent tweet at the time of going to print was a picture of Mtukudzi, with the artist clarifying that it isn’t one of his and calling on Twitter users to stop sending it to him.

Before Mtukudzi, Sirenje attended the ANC’s manifesto launch at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban, where his depiction of what is believed to be President Cyril Ramaphosa set Twitter ablaze.

His previous works, depicting subjects including late rappers ProKid and HHP as well as late struggle icon Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, received similar reactions.

READ MORE: Ras the funeral painter strikes again at HHP memorial service

Sirenje often paints the pictures at the memorials of important people.

He has, however, also come under fire for his depiction of the living, such as Ramaphosa, as well as his less-than-flattering takes on Jay Z and Beyonce at the Global Citizen festival in December 2018.

The artist has shown he is not impervious to criticism in the past by doing revisions on painting that have received negative public attention, repainting them to more closely resemble their subjects.

Other tweets from Sirenje so far include one telling a Twitter user not to compare his work to the work of others, and one expressing his devotion to Jah.

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