President Jacob Zuma has described Brett Murray's controversial painting The Spear, in which he was depicted as Lenin with his genitals exposed, as "rather vulgar".
Zuma was speaking to The Guardian in a wide-ranging interview about the state of South Africa.
He observed that South Africans had differing opinions about the painting, which led to supporters marching to the Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg in May in protest against the artwork. Two protesters later defaced the painting.
"There will be individuals who think differently. I don't think in a country you can have people thinking and feeling exactly the same. I think it is [that] people have got their own ideas, they want to express them. I might have a view about it, but some people might have a different view about it.
"I thought it was rather vulgar," Zuma said. "Particularly if you portray a particular person [that way], but of course I think the population did express itself at that time, which will tell you it is not everybody who approved of it. I think in fact the majority did not approve of it… Some white people, for example, thought that was not helpful to deal with the race issue in the country."
The painting led to a national debate on art, censorship and race. It was widely condemned, including by Cabinet, which said it was an insult to Zuma's dignity, office and culture.
The Film and Publication Board imposed a 16N rating on the painting, which it later removed.