Zunar, winner of our Courage in Editorial Cartooning Award in 2011, is thriving after a long period of adversity as perhaps the biggest year in his career unfolds.
A little less than two year ago, Zunar found it impossible to mount public events in his home country of Malaysia and in particular the city of Penang. Exhibitions would either be cancelled outright due to threats or would be interrupted by vandals, invariable leading to yet another incident of arrest or criminal charges for the cartoonist rather than the pro-government goons making his life a misery.
Now a major career retrospective – Art of Freedom – is set to open to the public later this month at the Muzium Negeri Pulau Pinang, the state museum in Penang. Such a thing would have been impossible under the previous regime. The videos below show the scale and beautiful presentation of the exhibit. The launch event last weekend was attended by the leader of the parliamentary opposition in Malaysia, Anwar Ibrahim.
“I am nearly choking as I say this because I feel sentimental whenever I see Zunar’s artworks. It reminds me of the suffering we both went through together. And these artworks show the tangible suffering Zunar underwent. His works show how important cartoonists are to the country’s development”Yang Berhormat Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim, president, People’s Justice Party, Malaysia
Art of Freedom by Zunar live video 5th May 2019 1pm. (Part 1)Posted by Muzium Negeri Pulau Pinang on Sunday, 5 May 2019
Art of Freedom by Zunar live video 5th May 2019 2:30pm (Part 2)Posted by Muzium Negeri Pulau Pinang on Sunday, 5 May 2019
The exhibition comes at the same time as Zunar’s memoir, Fight Through Cartoons, which will be available from Saturday. The book covers all the sorry details of the former prime minister Najib Razak and his government’s persecution of the cartoonist, up to an including multiple charges of sedition over Tweets about the afore-mentioned Ibrahim. CRNI’s Executive Director is quoted on the cover blurb:
“Zunar has given us something that is quite rare in the world of human rights and political cartooning. He opens the door into the anatomy of how a tyrant and demagogue uses the tools and institutions of state power to stop the critics that would point the world’s attention to their lawlessness…”Dr. Robert Russell, Exec. Director, CRNI
Zunar laboured under a travel ban for a substantial period and has been making up for it since his change in fortune following the election of May last year. Most recently he was with Cartooning For Peace’s delegation to the African Union, Addis Ababa for the week of events preceding World Press Freedom Day.
We congratulate Zunar on his success and look forward to seeing him in person soon. Please visit his blog for the latest on all his projects.