Another Day In Paradise

Pictures at an exhibition at Campbelltown Arts Centre.

Myuran Sukumaran was a talented Australian artist. Following a serious conviction for drug trafficking and ten years imprisonment, he was executed by the Indonesian Government in April 2015.

Confronting.

This post is not about his crime, nor is it about portraying him as some kind of post-mortem hero or martyr. It is about the first exhibition of his prolific paintings, entitled “Another Day In Paradise”, held at Campbelltown Arts Centre, (13 January 2017 – 26 March 2017) as part of the Sydney Festival. All of his paintings were created during his incarceration and provide a glimpse of how he confronted his prison life and impending execution.

Sombre.

The take-home message I got from “Another Day In Paradise” was about a peek inside Sukuraman’s tortured mind; of his alternating moments of torment and hope; of his strong feelings for family and friends; of his occasional optimism being replaced with final fear and despair; of his ultimately sombre acceptance; and of the potency of his final compelling painting.

Powerful.

The exhibition is neither a judgment nor a vindication of Sukumaran, for he has already paid the price. As the Exhibition’s Curatorial Statement said:

“Another Day in Paradise” invites us to consider how art has the power to provoke change and how justice could be sought if  – rather than punishment and penalty – human rights and rehabilitation were at its core. 

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2017-01-31: Sukumaran exhibition – The foyer of the Campbelltown Arts Centre and the entrance to the exhibition of Sukumaran paintings entitled “Another Day in Paradise”.
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2017-01-31: Sukumaran exhibition –  his paintings of the so-called Bali Nine.
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2017-01-31: Sukumaran exhibition – a bamboo prison cell – overlooked by the politicians (left) and the distraught family members (right).
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2017-01-31: Sukumaran exhibition – self-portraits from the final 72 hours hanging on the left wall; other self-portraits on the right.
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2017-01-31: Sukumaran exhibition – one of many self-portraits.
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2017-01-31: Sukumaran exhibition – prison life.
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2017-01-31: Sukumaran exhibition – the politicians. Those who couldn’t save them; and those who wouldn’t.
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2017-01-31: Sukumaran exhibition – prison landscapes.
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2017-01-31: Sukumaran exhibition – prison life.
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2017-01-3: Sukumaran exhibition – sister & brother.
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2017-01-31: Sukumaran exhibition – self portrait wall.
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2017-01-31: Sukumaran exhibition – inside (left), a tortured man in two minds awaiting his fate; and outside (right), the Australian politicians who pleaded for his life – and the Indonesian politicians who refused to listen.
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2017-01-31: Sukumaran exhibition – a bamboo prison cell – overlooked by the politicians: President Joko Widodo (Indonesia); Prime Minister Tony Abbott (Australia); President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (Indonsesia); Foreign Minister Julie Bishop (Australia); Minister of Foreign Affairs Marty Natalegawa (Indonesia); Prime Minister Kevin Rudd (Australia); Minister of Justice & Human Rights Amir Syamsuddin (Indonesia); Prime Minister Julie Gillard (Australia); politician and former Lieutenant General Prabowo Subianto (Indonesia).
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2017-01-31: Sukumaran exhibition – symbolic bamboo prison cell with his Mother on the right and other family members on the left.
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2017-01-31: Sukumaran exhibition – Pappa & Grandfather.
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2017-01-31: Sukumaran exhibition – twelve anguished paintings, all completed during an industrious final 72 hours.
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2017-01-31: Sukumaran exhibition – a dove of peace with 3655 eggs representing his 3655 days in custody. (Artist: Abdul-Rahman Abdullah). On the wall is the reverse side of a portrait of President Widodo (Indonesia), showing the signature and message: “People Can Change”. I assume that Sukumaran was referring to himself – but it could easily also apply to hard-hearted Widodo.
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2017-01-31: Sukumaran exhibition – a man in his prison cell. A symbolic display at the main entrance to the exhibition at Campbelltown Arts Centre (and feature black and white image at the top of this page).
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2017-01-31: Sukumaran exhibition – two of the final paintings completed shortly before the executions took place.
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2017-01-31: Sukkumaran exhibition – confronting his final moments.
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2017-01-31: Sukumaran exhibition – his final painting depicting the Indonesian flag dripping with blood. It conveys a silent message which is obvious to all.

I cannot imagine the anguish which the family of Myuran Sukumaran went through. It was brave of them to proceed with this amazing exhibition of artistic talent.

It was also wonderful that Campbelltown Arts Centre was chosen to host it.


Links:

Myuran Sukumaran – Wikipedia

Bali Nine – Wiipedia

Campbelltown Arts Centre Images

Campbelltown Arts Centre Website


All images © R.Powell


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