Harry Rekas with his artwork, which has been digitally altered to remove the controversial member.

Harry Rekas with his artwork, which has been digitally altered. Photo: Meredith O'Shea

Perverted pirates have landed St Kilda watering hole Dog's Bar in trouble after local police received an obscenity complaint about the artwork in which the dirty old rogue's member features far too prominently.

Police visited the Acland Street bar on Tuesday to examine the photographic composite image, which displays two penises.

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Owner David Carruthers posted on Facebook: "I have been visited by the police to inform me we had a complaint about this piece of art and I may be taken to court and prosecuted for displaying obscene images in public!" Mr Carruthers posted on Facebook.

Police confirmed a complaint was made on February 11 and that the investigation was continuing.

The artwork is by Melbourne art director Harry Rekas, who added the exposed penis to an original photographic work by Gerard O'Connor.

"Well, yes, it's a photograph," Rekas said. "I trawled the internet to find the penis and don't remember whose it was, I'm afraid. In fact, there are two of them."

He said the work was based on that of American artist Robert Crumb's cartoon Captain Pissgums and his Pervert Pirates, published in 1968.

 Rekas said he was not aware the image was displayed at Dog's Bar before he heard of the controversy.

He said he was bemused by the obscenity claim because the image had previously hung at two Fitzroy galleries, Red Gallery and The Colour Factory, the National Trust's Tasma Gallery in East Melbourne, the Australian Centre of Photography in NSW and in China.

It was also published in Rekas' magazine, which was distributed in Australia, the United States and Britain.

"I guess people can be offended," Rekas said.

This is the second time in a year St Kilda police have been called to Acland Street following an obscenity complaint about an artwork featuring an exposed penis.

The street's Linden Gallery was raided in June last year after a local resident complained about an installation by Paul Yore featuring a urinating Justin Bieber image.

Mr Yore will contest charges of producing and possessing child pornography in July this year.

This story states that Captain Pissgums and his Perverted Pirates was created by artist Robert Crumb. The work was created by a contemporary of Crumb’s, artist S. Clay Wilson.
Photographer Gerard O’Connor and art director Harry Rekas’ are in dispute over the authorship of the work.