Portraying the Penan, Up Close and Intimate

By Ooi Kok Chuen

September 2021 PENANG PALETTE
main image
Penan child with a pet monkey.
THEY ARE INSIGHTFUL portraits, ethnographic studies in fact of the remaining straggly bands of the nomadic Penan, unknown to the world beyond the forests, rivers and mountains in Borneo which they inhabit. With muted Hyper- Realist theatricality, Tan Wei Kheng has painted for the world to see, rare glimpses of this elusive people.Wei Kheng, 51 this month (September), has just returned from another trip into the interior of Borneo with an appointed rendezvous with the Penan, usually a family of...

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Ooi Kok Chuen

is an art-writer and journalist, and the author of MAHSURI: A Legend Reborn (Ooi Peeps Publishing), an adult contemporary fantasy “movel” (a novel conceived as a mock movie) spun from a local legend.