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Deaf Malaysian draws WikiLeak founder's portrait

Tuesday December 28, 2010 03:49:33 PM, IANS

Kuala Lumpur: TIME magazine's year-end cover picture of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been done by a deaf Malaysian artist.

New York-based Leon Lim's portrait artwork of Assange appears on TIME's latest issue (Dec 27-Jan 3) that recognises individuals or groups who made the news over the past year.

Lim, who has never met Assange, used the text of a leaked cable to create a "new" face for the Australian journalist who has turned the diplomatic world upside down by exposing government secrets through his whistleblowing website.

Lim spent three days making six different versions, and sent a copy of his "transformative work" to the magazine early this month, The Star said Tuesday.

"I wanted to share my thoughts on why Assange should be the person of the year. I certainly didn't expect to see my portrait of him in print as the magazine has its own design team for artwork," Lim told the newspaper from Manhattan.

The dramatic portrait apparently caught the eye of the magazine's managing editor Richard Stengel, who recommended that it be used with an article on Assange.

Assange, who has become the world's most talked about man, was third runner-up in the magazine's list of newsmakers but emerged as the Readers' Choice in a poll conducted by TIME.

Lim was a bit disappointed that Assange was not the top pick of the magazine's editors but was happy the award went to another big Internet name - Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

While he admired Zuckerberg for helping to connect people around the world, he praised Assange for his courage in exposing government secrets to "set things right".

Getting his work published in TIME is a dream realised for Lim, who has been reading the magazine since he was 11.

The artist has been deaf since birth.

"As a kid who never heard any sound or music, I was always attracted to the magazine's bold colours, pictures and graphics," he said.

Lim, who left his Alor Setar hometown for the US 11 years ago on an art scholarship, has made a name for himself, having held several exhibitions in the US, Europe and Asia.




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