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'Obscene' Zuma Painting Case Heads to Court

It 'presents me as a womanizer, philanderer,' says South African president
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser Staff
Posted May 24, 2012 12:45 AM CDT
Updated May 24, 2012 12:54 AM CDT
'Obscene' Zuma Painting Case Heads to Court
A visitor to the Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg holds his hands "The Spear," depicting President Jacob Zuma, by South African artist Brett Murray.   (AP Photo/Denis Farrell)

(Newser) – The ruling South African party is heading to court today to support President Jacob Zuma's demand that an "obscene" painting of him be censored. The painting, which was vandalized earlier this week at a Johannesburg gallery, features Zuma with his genitals exposed. It's "rude, crude, and disrespectful," argues the African National Congress. "Millions are offended, and those millions are not necessarily black people only," said a party spokesman. Artist Brett Murray's "The Spear" has already been sold to a private collector for $14,000, reports the BBC.

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The controversial president and his party are suing to immediately jettison the painting from the gallery—and bar the press and internet from showing the image. Said Zuma: "The portrait depicts me in a manner that suggests I am a philanderer, a womanizer, and one with no respect," said Zuma, who has four wives. "It is an undignified depiction of my personality." Zuma has sued artists and media organizations for defamation 11 times. In one case, to be heard in the fall, he is suing an artist for portraying him as raping a female figure representing Justice. Zuma was acquitted of the rape of a family friend six years ago. (Read more Johannesburg stories.)

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