Art Detail | Ilham Gallery
Malaysian Rainforest
Malaysian Rainforest

This painting captures a lush Malaysian rainforest from a unique perspective, as if through the eyes of an insect on the ground. From this angle, one can see the underside of leaves and the white light of the sun’s rays falling through a gap in the canopy. The tops of distant trees seem to dissolve and become part of the sky. A tall tree rises in a dramatic arc beyond the limits of the canvas. Other trees grow haphazardly across the painting, showing the exuberance of nature left to its own devices. Through Johan Marjonid’s eyes, the wild ancestral rainforests of Malaysia appear more majestic and monumental than the urban skyscrapers built through rampant, often illegal logging.

Acrylic on canvas
120.5 × 162.5 cm
Credit Line:
Collection of ILHAM Foundation
© Johan Marjonid
About Johan Marjonid

Johan Marjonid (b. 1968, Johor) is a full-time artist known for his realistic paintings of Malaysia’s diminishing tropical rainforests. He graduated from the MARA Institute of Technology (UiTM) in 1992. He never refers to photographs when painting his mystical green-scapes, preferring to paint on-site instead. His favourite forests to paint include Gunung Stong in Kelantan, Gunung Tahan and Taman Negara in Pahang, the Royal Belum state park in Perak, and the Endau-Rompin national park. In 1994, he won first place in the National Art Gallery’s “Malaysian Landscape” competition. His works are in the collection of the National Art Gallery, the Johor State Art Gallery, PETRONAS, Pos Malaysia, the Malaysian Timber Council, and various other public and private repositories.

Further Readings
  • “Johan Marjonid.” Accessed September 2, 2021.

  • Sarena Abdullah. “Thematic Approaches in Malaysian Art Since the 1990s.” JATI - Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, vol. 16 (December 2011): 97–112.

Learning Section
  • Imagine you are standing in this painting. What noises can you hear? What time of day is it? What does air feel like? How do you feel about being in this place? What emotions do you associate with this place?

  • Compare this painting to Zakaria Ali’s Sg Tembeling painting. How are the paintings similar? What are the differences?  Which painting most resonates with your feelings towards Malaysia's rainforests?