(1946–September 5, 2011)

vann_nath_portraitVann Nath was one of only fourteen prisoners known to survive the Tuol Sleng torture center in Phnom Penh during the reign of the Khmer Rouge. At least 14,000 died in this prison. Mr. Vann Nath was spared so he could paint portraits of the Khmer Rouge leaders. “Every brush stroke, you were just hoping that they would like it and let you live,” he said in an interview. He was liberated in January 1979 when a Vietnamese invasion drove the Khmer Rouge from power and his jailers fled. After the fall of the Khmer Rouge, the new government asked him to paint pictures of the prison tortures so the world would know the horrors of the “Killing Fields.” Today these works hang in the former prison-turned-museum as a reminder to all.