Painting of Turkey’s President Erdogan with a banana up his buttocks sparks anger at German art fair

The gallery owner said he took down the caricature to “avoid trouble”

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 24 February, 2018, 3:09am
UPDATED : Saturday, 24 February, 2018, 4:33am

A German artist complained Friday after a gallery took down his depiction of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan with a banana in his buttocks.

Thomas Baumgaertel’s provocative painting, Turkish dictator, sparked noisy complaints and protests at an art fair in Karlsruhe, 38 miles (60km) northwest of Stuttgart.

Amid the row, the fair’s organisers tweeted that it was not them, but the owner of the exhibiting galley that had “decided to take down the caricature”.

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Gallerist Michael Oess said he took the decision “to avoid trouble,” adding: “I have a certain responsibility toward other visitors.”

The artist wrote on Twitter that he had severed ties with the gallery after it had taken the decision “without consulting me”.

Baumgaertel is a street-art pioneer also known as “Banana Sprayer” for his trademark motif of an Andy Warhol-style banana.

The uproar started on Thursday when a Turkish journalist snapped a photo of the artwork with a smartphone for an online report, said Oess.

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The Turkish newspaper Daily Sabah reported on the painting, saying that to Turks it presented a “racist and vulgar attack” on their president.

Oess said the painting, part of the “Despots series – Trump, Kim and Erdogan”, had sold for 5,900 euros (US$7,200).

Germany has a three-million-strong ethnic Turkish community. 

Erdogan has in the past sued a German TV comic over his satirical “Defamatory Poem”.