White Mandela Painting: ‘Not Suitable’?

A depiction of the former South African president is now locked up in a storeroom instead of in an exhibit.

Simunye by Kobus Myburgh (Mary-Ann Palmer/Beald via the Huffington Post)
Simunye by Kobus Myburgh (Mary-Ann Palmer/Beald via the Huffington Post)

A painting by artist Kobus Myburgh was scheduled to be displayed as part of South African municipality’s celebration of World Art Day, but that plan has been scrapped, and the piece of art is locked up in a storeroom. Why? It depicted Nelson Mandela and Jacob Zuma as white, and former heads of state Hendrik Verwoerd, John Vorster, P.W. Botha and F.W. de Klerk as black. Local arts and culture official Themba Mona wasn’t having it. He reportedly decided that the painting was “not suitable” for public viewing.

The artist disagrees (no surprise there). “It is by no means a protest piece. There is a positive message, to show that we are actually all alike. That’s why I called the painting Simunye — the Zulu word for ‘we are one.’ We are and remain equal, regardless of the color of our skin,” Myburgh told Times Live.

Seems like a harmless —  if somewhat provocative — use of artistic license to us, but perhaps it feels different in a country that’s at a different place in its racial history. Let us know what you think in the comments section.

Read more at the Huffington Post and Times Live.