Forgotten Beauty is an exhibition of stunning, intricate portraits of Sarawakian tribal elders. The paintings draw attention to specific, unique adornments symbolic to the elders’ tribes, including tattoos, stretched earlobes, and styles of dress.
Tan Wei Kheng was inspired to paint these portraits under the concern that newer generations no longer retain these traditions, particularly after leaving the rainforest and integrating into city life. Forgotten Beauty looks closely at the tribes’ aesthetic traditions and puts them under a spotlight before they disappear for good.
“The elders have weathered faces from toiling in the fields and hunting in the jungle. Their eyes and faces tell a story.” – Tan Wei Kheng (speaking to star2.com)
Wei Kheng is a self-taught artist from Marudi, Sarawak. He is drawn to the stories, symbolism and traditional knowledge of Sarawak interior peoples, and travels regularly into the dense interior of Sarawak where he spends time with friends from the tribes of the Orang Ulu (People of the Interior) such as the Kayan, Kenyah, Penan, Kelabit and Iban.
Photo credit: Courtesy of Richard Koh Fine Art and Tan Wei Kheng