Furor Over Painting of Mandela By White Artist

Special to the NNPA from the GIN | 7/18/2010, 12:21 p.m.

A white South Africa has stirred a furor over his painting of former president Nelson Mandela as a cadaver, surrounded by prominent African figures witnessing his autopsy.

Artist Yuill Damaso called his work "a modern take on the Rembrandt oil painting The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp." According to Damaso, his rendition is a tribute to Mandela.

"Underneath all his great achievements, the revered former South African president is flesh and bone, like everyone else," Damaso said in interviews.

But the work has infuriated local residents who are demanding it be removed from Johannesburg's Hyde Park shopping centre. The African National Congress also has condemned the work, saying: "It is in bad taste, disrespectful, and it is an insult and an affront to values of our society."

In Africa, some believe it taboo to depict a living person -- let alone the internationally revered, anti-apartheid icon -- as dead.

Mandela, who is due to celebrate his 92nd birthday on July 18, has increasingly limited his time in the public in recent years. He made a brief public appearance at Soccer City in Johannesburg on Sunday about an hour prior to the World Cup final match.