Iranian born, Australian artist, Abbas Mehran’s paintings take you on an artistic journey that overflows with love and colour. He has lived and exhibited in numerous countries, from Germany to Argentina, yet no trip touched him as much as his short stay in Cambodia. He went there a few years ago in order to work on paintings of children with Geraldine Cox, Country Director and President of the Australia Cambodia Foundation and the Sunrise Children’s Villages project. Cox’s work inspired Abbas to start a project of his own: paint a series of portraits of children living in the Sunrise Children’s Villages in Cambodia to be sold for the benefit of the children. He also taught the children to paint. ‘Spending time with the children provided me with an exceptional opportunity to gain a more profound and reflective insight into and an understanding of the “bewildering human nature and complicated human conditions. I could observe those children every day and see how they are, away from the world’s cruelties and corruptions; passionate and enthusiastic to learn, to live, and to be. Observing, experiencing, and reflecting upon lives of such children within different and distinguished environments provided my ‘chante’ (a word that in the Persian culture means a small bag containing small items of precious value, ones wisdom, knowledge, and intelligent tricks) with additional and valuable ingredients – raw materials, which are indispensable to my art practices’, said Abbas. Abbas painted 16 portraits of the kids, each telling their story. ‘I have been affected by all their stories. All have been somehow neglected and abused by adults. However, Pha Khin, a three year old boy, inspired and struck me the most through his look, reaction and story. He is a three-year old boy who still does not know who his parents and siblings are. Someone sold him to Malaysian bandit(s), and he was lucky to be rescued by police’. Proceeds from all of the portraits sold will be donated back to Sunrise Children’s Villages. Abbas’ next exhibition will take place from 28 to 30 March, 2014 in Collingwood Gallery, an exciting arts venue in Melbourne’s busiest gallery quarter.
ART SUPPORTS CAMBODIAN CHILDRENBUY A CHILD PORTRAIT TO SUPPORT CAMBODIAN CHILDREN
A Note from Geraldine Cox
“I met Abbas when he contacted me in Adelaide to see if there was a way he could be involved with my Sunrise children and he offered to come and paint portraits of the children to sell where we would get 50% of sales proceeds. As I had lived in Iran, Abbas’s home country, in the eighties for more than 3 years, we really understood each other and before long he arrived in Cambodia to work and do just what he said he would do over 2 separate visits. Apart from the amazing and touching portraits of the children, he designed and supervised the artwork on our round music building, named Sounds of Sunrise, with sunflowers, animals and Khmer scenes with slogans that the children came up with, which were written in Khmer, English and Farsi, Abbas’s language. He taught the children how to draw and paint, and through this we discovered some really talented children who subsequently went on to follow their passion for the art that Abbas introduced them to; to the point where 2 of them who have just passed grade 12, are now doing Fine Arts Bachelor Degrees at local universities! Abbas became a beloved uncle and mentor of the children and a confidante for me over the time that he was considered “family”. Through his kindness and desire to teach art he has shown the Sunrise children that there are others in the world who are dedicated to ways to improve their lives and to assist them to grow in ways they could not ordinarily do in Cambodia without the commitment of people like Abbas. He is still missed and I hope that you will see the love that has gone into his work and that you will want to support his project…”