Jacob Zuma’s penis

In February of this year Illma Gore, made a pastel drawing, entitled “Make America Great Again.” The 11″ by 14″ drawing portrayed Donald Trump, naked, with a shriveled penis.

trump painting

On her website the artist explains:

“‘Make America Great Again’ was created to evoke a reaction from its audience, good or bad, about the significance we place on our physical selves. One should not feel emasculated by their penis size or vagina, as it does not define who you are. Your genitals do not define your gender,¬†your power, or your status. Simply put, you can be a massive prick, despite what is in your pants.”

The artist was forced to withdraw the image from Facebook, “due to anonymous complaints invoking the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.” Apparently the claim is “only Mr. Trump owns the commercial rights to his likeness” (Observer). So she has been threatened with a lawsuit if she attempts to sell the drawing. Illma Gore also could not find a gallery to display it in Los Angeles, and she has been the victim of death threats. Despite all this, the drawing is now on display in the Maddox Gallery in Mayfair, London.

Another controversial portrayal of a political figure displaying his genitals is Brett Murray’s representation of Jacob Zuma, “The Spear” (2012).


The legal controversy and media attention surrounding the painting is available on Brett Murray’s website. Controversy surrounding the painting was also captured in a documentary, “Shield and Spear,” directed by Peter Ringbom, available on itunes.

But his was not the first painting portraying Zuma’s genitals. As far as I know the first was Ayanda Mabulu, “Ngcono ihlwempu kunesibhanxo sesityebi (Better poor than a rich puppet), (2010).

SOUTH AFRICA - SEPTEMBER 2012: The first painting of Zuma with his genitals exposed. Feature text available. (Photo by Gallo Images / You Corrie Hansen)
SOUTH AFRICA – SEPTEMBER 2012: The first painting of Zuma with his genitals exposed. Feature text available. (Photo by Gallo Images / You Corrie Hansen)

Mabulu’s recent painting of Zuma, “Pornography of Power” (2015), which depicted Zuma committing rape, has proven controversial as well. Mabulu explains his work in an EWN interview. The political cartoonist, Zapiro, has commented on the painting as well.


The Spear

I am finally getting around to this: writing about the controversy surrounding representations of Jacob Zuma.
First is the painting by Brett Murray, next to the painting of Lenin on which it is based.

zuma_leninThe painting was defaced while it was hanging in an art gallery.

zuma paintingBut the controversy surrounding the painting became a feature of popular culture. An example is the poster for Trevor Noah’s comedy tour.

trevor noahAnother example is from the political cartoonist Zapiro.

zapior cartoon of spearMore about Zapiro and his representations of Zuma in another post.

For now, Brett Murray has produced a website which documents debate about the painting at the same time it becomes in itself another piece of protest art.

soldAnd here is a link to a parody of the debate at Wonkie that concludes with a poll asking people to state whether or not “The Spear” is art.