MALAYSIAN TROPICAL RAINFOREST PAINTING
Johan Marjonid is one among a small number of realist naturalist painters in Malaysia. The number is so significantly small if compared to the dominating Abstract Expressionism, Conceptual Realism, or Figurative Libre that become parts of common menus for the citizens of metropolis in visual art genre of this decade, especially Kuala Lumpur. Though, if perceived thoroughly beyond the pictorial forms, we can see his works are rich with metaphors that consist of reflective contrast of typical landscapes of urban buildings are substituted by natural fibers and cores of rain forests. To share this conscience and splendor, Johan Marjonid became active with rain forest subjects since 1994, and has emerged with several series of works; Preservation series and Arca Alam series which consists in it sub-series (Gunung Stong, Rimba Kanching, Jeriau, Tekala, Twin Towers, etc). His works were picked for display at Balai Senilukis Negara’s (National Art Gallery, Malaysia) major exhibitions such as Masterpieces from the Permanent Collection (Redza Piyadasa), 2001 and Warisan (Dr. Najib Dawa), 2003. Apart from that, he also involved with many special exhibitions, specifically themed on rain forests in local private and corporate galleries. On this commitment, he was invited to exhibit and paint for Rain forest Painting Demonstration at World Expo 2000, Hannover, Germany in 2000.
Born in Kampung Jelutung, Ayer Baloi, Pontian, Johor in 1968, Johan Marjonid received his Ijazah Sarjana Muda Seni Halus (Degree in Fine Art) from UiTM, Shah Alam in 1991. He has since taught fine art in several local public and private funded art institutions within Kuala Lumpur, and later on chose to be fulltime artist from years 2000 onwards.
Johan Marjonid is fully dedicated a painter whose choice is rainforest as his subject. All his works are real depictions of Malaysian forests. To approach and fully understand his subject, he frequently participates in expeditions and conducts his own visits to his favorite locations such as Gunung Stong in Kelantan, Gunung Tahan and Taman Negara in Pahang, Endau-Rompin, Royal Belum in Perak and recreational forests around Kuala Lumpur and Selangor. If we truly observe his paintings, we will realize that there are several locations frequently portrayed, and those locations are the favorite spots he will visit annually to record physical changes and moods within which he will submerge into to study the characteristics of every buttress root and tree trunk, and several visits to the local national forest research institute to see its arboretum and reference books in its library.
Producing Realism paintings on big-scaled canvases is a challenge and a reflection of his wisdom in dealing with space, selecting colors, and understanding compositions. With varied and elegant visual angles, it is as if the paintings are enticing the viewers to take a long stroll inside. Even though Johan’s style is different from traditional East Asian landscape paintings, it can be appreciated the same way where viewers are persuaded on a ‘passage’ meditatively through the forest paths and to relish spiritual meanings or philosophies on every natural element they encounter.
In his efforts to spread the idea about the significance of preserving the environments, Johan rouses the public to feel the surrounding atmosphere. For instance, the aesthetic feelings and artistic appearances of the atmosphere after the rain; fresh, cool, calm, mysterious and at times terrifying are prevalent in Preservation Series and Arca Alam series. He tries to give us awareness about how a certain ambiance is shaped by the surrounding factors, for example the condition after the rainfall at reserved forest of Gunung Stong is different from the condition after the rainfall in Rimba Rekreasi Kanching. Nature is to be viewed holistically, not materialistically or just physically. Landscape paintings have long been treated as the main subject by several well known civilizations as indications to locales, seasons, or as impressions for narrative and figurative compositions. Reading the work of rain forest painting by Johan can be likened to viewing the forest as if we were inside it; its every image, its temperature, its topography, its flora, its fauna, and whatever the signs, whether as the main subjects or in the background, are symbolically most important for the visitors / appreciators.