Dominic Benhura, a sculptor who created a gigantic statue of 92-year-old Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, is defending his work following a backlash on Twitter, according to the Daily Mail.
Zimbabwean artist Benhura invited President Mugabe for the launch of his bizarre sculpture, which portrays the president as a “Simpsons”-inspired superhero, and immediately spurred a reaction on Twitter.
“I think most people do not understand my art and they do not understand the difference in art styles. That sculpture was never meant to look exactly as the President’s image. I do not do exact figures. Some artists do exact figures, but I do something that makes my work different,” Benhura said about his statue.
But days after its unveiling, the three-tone statue is still attracting ridicule and sarcasm on social media with some people calling it “a parody in stone”:
I can’t stop laughing. The bravery of making such a thing & stand with it. This is career suicide!!! #MugabeStatue pic.twitter.com/SGgtXeCbZC
— #The Idealist (@GSM_IMM) September 10, 2016
And while many questioned Benhura’s motives — with some deducing that he may have been forced to create the statue by the veteran president — others suggested that he intentionally miscued the sculpture as part of the ongoing protests against President Mugabe:
The angle of statue signifies wishes of those who want Mugabe to fall, when you look closely, he remains standing ? pic.twitter.com/in79o7tN56
— IG: ConceptSixty5 (@Sentletse) September 10, 2016
Others even compared Mugabe’s statue to that of the late-Nelson Mandela, the former President of South Africa, wondering if Benhura was attempting to show the difference between the two personalities in terms of leadership:
RT for Mandela Statue
LIKE for Mugabe Statue pic.twitter.com/SiEJBWN55Y
— Trends Zimbabwe ™ (@TrendsZim) September 10, 2016
Still, the artist maintains that he had no intentions of misrepresenting the Zimbabwean president in his statue.
“Honestly, no one would abuse such an opportunity. I wanted the President to see what I do and if I had changed my style it would not be sincere. This is the art that has made my name, and this is the style that differentiates my pieces. If we all do refined pieces of subjects, we come up with the same art, and that is not what art is supposed to be,” Benhura insisted.
“Art is about uniqueness and that piece has attracted attention because it is unique.”
Benhura is an internationally celebrated sculptor whose work sells for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Meanwhile, Mugabe has described the statue as “a kind of wonder, a kind of love, a kind of appreciation and satisfaction.”