May 24, 2012 --
Art is meant to evoke a reaction from an observer. Sometimes, however, a painting, sculpture or photograph might not get the reception the artist expected -- or intended.
Take, for example, this recent art exhibition that has caught the attention of not only South Africa, where it is hosted, but the world.
Titled "The Spear," this painting by Brett Murray, on display at the Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg, features South African President Jacob Zuma with his genitals exposed. The provocative work has become a lightning rod within the art world.
Critics don't like it. They allege that it's not only vulgar, but also derivative, copying the same style and color scheme artist Shepherd Fairey employed in his famous poster of President Barack Obama, except with an obscene twist. Zuma himself doesn't like it. He insisted that it be removed from the art gallery, and demanded photos of it be taken down from local newspaper website. And evidently, some art patrons don't like it either. Two days ago, two Zuma supporters vandalized it, drawing a red "X" over the face and smearing black paint all over the portrait.
This incident isn't the first time that a work of art has caused a scandal.