The Nando’s CEO has apologised over a ‘racist’ painting in a newly-opened restaurant. A ‘horrified’ customer spotted the ‘disturbing’ artwork, showing four black people in tatty clothing standing inside a toaster.
The painting was spotted on Wednesday hanging in the seating area at the new restaurant in Perry Barr, Birmingham. The property manager, 29, said that as a black man he found it ‘unacceptable, weird, and deeply offensive’. The customer, from South Kensington, London, said: ‘It shows four people of colour who would have been historically subject to degradation and hardship in an implement – here, a toaster – used to cook or burn bread.
‘To me, it’s akin to hanging a picture of someone in an oven or being chopped up. It’s completely dehumanising people of colour.
‘If it’s an apartheid era piece of work, it is shocking they would hang it in a South African-style food chain.’ Rather than complain at the restaurant, which had opened the day before, the customer directly messaged Nando’s UK CEO Colin Hill on Linkedin. Mr Hill apologised, saying the painting had been taken down and that the company would ‘review’ the selection process for artwork.
Mr Hill said: ‘Nandos has the largest collection of Southern African art in the world. ‘Our successful programme to support, sponsor and provide opportunities for developing artists is extensive and long-standing.’
But the customer didn’t find the ‘stock apology’ that he felt ‘didn’t take the issue seriously’ reassuring. He said: ‘It’s one thing taking it down, but it’s another thing to make it clear to shocked customers that they won’t make similar oversights in future again. He said: ‘What would I tell a child, if they saw that horrendous painting on the wall? ‘Everybody should be offended by this painting – black, white, and Asian.’
Nando’s employs around 8,000 staff in the UK and has around 300 branches in Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It claims to have the largest collection of South African art in the UK, with over 5,000 works displayed in restaurants.
A Nando’s Spokesperson said: ‘As a proudly South African brand we are the biggest collectors of Southern African Art in the world and every Nando’s restaurant displays original artworks from artists based in our homeland. ‘Often these works depict scenes from South Africa’s history or comment on the current social situations there.
‘In this instance the artist, Khaya Sineyile from the New Crossroads township in Nyanga, Cape Town, takes issue with the far reaching effects of social inequality in South Africa.’
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