The first major exhibition of paintings by executed drug smuggler Myuran Sukumaran is set to open this weekend as part of the Sydney Festival.
Another Day In Paradise is a collection of more than 100 of Sukumaran’s paintings created at Bali’s Kerobokan jail and on Nusa Kambangan Island, and includes artworks from six of Australia’s leading artists responding to the death penalty and Sukumaran’s work.
Sukumaran was executed by firing squad in April 2015 along with fellow Bali Nine ringleader Andrew Chan for attempting to smuggle $4 million worth of heroin from Bali to Australia.
While in jail he spoke of his remorse and guilt, and discovered a talent for painting.
Artist Ben Quilty who co-curated the exhibition, was a close friend and mentor to Sukumaran and is hopeful the exhibition will not only draw people’s attention to Sukumaran’s talent but will also be used to call out the countries where the death penalty is still present.
“Myuran’s humanity exists in this space. They executed him, they shot him dead, but he’s still living on and I hope that his memory will haunt people who think that execution is a good idea,” Quilty told AAP.
“It ends up being a very powerful symbol of the stupidity and the grotesque insanity of executing other human beings.
“This show I hope will add another very powerful voice to that voice which has called out right around the world to every country that still uses it.”
Quilty worked closely with Sukumaran in the years before his death and told his friend he would show his work after he died.
“In the end, I promised Myuran that this show would be on the road and people would see his work and we both knew that people hadn’t seen most of his work,” he said.
Sukumaran lived with enormous guilt for what he put his family through, Quilty said, but his art was something he felt he could leave with them.
“I know that the art practice became something that he was aware could eventually give his mum, particularly, something to be proud of,” he said.
“She’s seen the show, she had a private preview, and I think for the first time in a long time I sensed real pride in her for what her son achieved against the most unimaginable odds.”
*Another Day In Paradise is on exhibition at the Campbelltown Arts Centre from January 13 to March 26 as part of the Sydney Festival.