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Brother speaks out against death penalty at world premiere of Bali 9 member Myuran Sukumaran's art show

Lawyer Julian McMahon with three self-portraits by Myuran Sukumaran
Lawyer Julian McMahon with three self-portraits by Myuran Sukumaran
The brother of executed Bali Nine member Myuran Sukumaran joined community leaders to speak out against the death penalty at the emotional world premiere of an art exhibition featuring his paintings in Campbelltown last night.

Chintu Sukumaran choked back tears as he told the hundreds of people who attended the opening night of the Myuran Sukumaran: Another Day in Paradise exhibition that he and his family felt a cross between pride and anger to see his brother's emotive and thought-provoking artworks on display.

"We are proud that Myu's work is being shown to the world but we are angry that he is no longer with us," he said.

"Our family feel great sadness that his life was cut short so violently. We miss him all the time.

"It's important to stand up against the death penalty."

Mr Sukumaran, who attended the opening night with mum Raji and sister Brintha, said art gave his brother an outlet and the paintings showed the power of redemption.

Myuran Sukumaran found a passion for art and painted hundreds of portraits, including a series featuring each Bali 9 member, while incarcerated in Bali's Kerokoban Jail and from his final incarceration on Nusakambangan Island.

Sukumaran and fellow Bali 9 member Andrew Chan were executed by Indonesian authorities on Nusakambangan Island in April 215.

Chan's brother Michael also attended the opening night of the exhibition, which is on display at Campbelltown Arts Centre as part of the Sydney Festival.

Mr Chan said the paintings were excellent and showcased what Sukumaran tried to do.

"He made mistakes but he rehabilitated and this is what you see," he said.

Mr Chan said he and his family had their good days and bad days and he hoped something good would come out of the situation.

Sukumaran's lawyer Julian McMahon also attended the launch and described how he watched his client mature from a naive and angry young man to a person who reformed and found a passion for art and tried to make life better for the other prisoners in the jail.

Campbelltown Mayor George Brticevic officially opened the exhibition and became emotional as he commended the bravery of the Sukumaran family for attending the event.

He said he had served as a police officer for 22 years and the attendance of the family at the opening night was the bravest thing he had seen.

Another Day in Paradise - Myuran Sukumaran's debut exhibition in Sydney
Macarthur Federal Labor MP Mike Freelander and Fowler Federal Labor MP Chris Hayes, who served on the group Australian Parliamentarians against the Death Penalty, also attended the event and spoke out against capital punishment.

The exhibition was co-curated by Sukumaran's mentor, Archibald Prize winning artist, Ben Quilty, and Campbelltown Arts Centre director Michael Dagostino.

The series of self portraits are on display at Campbelltown Arts Centre as part of the Sydney Festival.

One of the paintings featured in the series, The Final 72 Hours.

Quilty became emotional at the launch and thanked the arts centre and Campbelltown Council for being brave enough to stage the exhibition.

He said he hoped the exhibition blew the "haters" out of the water.

Dagostino said he was keen for the arts centre to show thought-provoking works and become a vessel to discuss issues.

"This exhibition is proof that art can change lives," he said.

Alongside Sukumaran's paintings, the arts centre commissioned works by 6 leading Australian artists which also explore the exhibition's themes and are displayed alongside his work.

The exhibition is free to enter and will be on show at Campbelltown Arts Centre until March 26.

Source: Daily Telegraph, January 14, 2017

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