Mon, July 12, 2010
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Controversy over Mandela painting

2010-07-12 07:41:44 GMT2010-07-12 15:41:44 (Beijing Time)

The painting shows former South African President Nelson Mandela lying dead with his body being dissected by some of his political contemporaries, and it is causing quite a stir in Johannesburg.

That's no surprise to artist Yiull Damaso

"It started off with just an idea with friends in a discussion, the idea of the painting and depicting Nelson Mandela being dissected by some politicians. Each time I brought up the idea in conversation everybody got so involved in who should and should not be in the painting."

The painting, which is based on Rembrandt's 'The Anatomy lesson, provoked a mixed reaction from members of the public -- including death threats.

"We don't want to see him like that. We want to see him say 'let's be together, let's fight together to have a beautiful country'."

The painting shows high profile South African political figures such as current President Jacob Zuma and Archbishop Desmond Tutu gathered around the body of Mandela

"I think that it is a great piece of art, it's sort of startling when you stumble into it but when you start engaging with the artist and he explains his drawings and what he is alluding to it makes you think that we could learn from his life and we could learn from him."

Damaso said he had received threats to his life when taking part in a radio phone-in show.

Damaso is still putting the finishing touches to the painting and is yet to decide if he will put it on sale.

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