Zuma, 2014, Oil on Panel, 150x100cm
Jacob Zuma is the President of South Africa, leader of the African National Congress and a divisive figure in South African politics. This painting of him is notably different from the others in this series by its large size. The huge grey surface the painting is situated on is monolithic in comparison the the other political paintings. The glossy expanse surrounds the painted image to draw the viewers attention away from the subject of the painting and points it towards a consideration of the painting as an object. The large grey panel distracts from attempts to decode the depiction of Zuma and instead provokes questions of the physicality of painting. The larger size of the work creates a more imposing physical presence but does this necessarily imply a deeper impact on the viewer? The painting of a large, blank section of the panel is a blunt way to draw attention to the surface of the work though it creates an interesting tension in the painting. While the viewer is required to stand back to be able to behold the entire piece, to be able to fully perceive the detailed section they must stand close. This leads to a more dynamic viewing of the work, forcing the viewer to move as well as look. The detailed section of this piece was painted with the same motivation behind most of the pieces in this series, namely questions of format, media, power and political implications of painting. The large surface serves to make the experience of the painting more physical.