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Sekinchan: Painting the Man-made Fields of Malaysia

Located on the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia, Sekinchan is one of many paddy plantations that cover the land. It is unique because it is an absolutely man-made landscape—without the involvement of humans, it would have none of the same characteristics that it has today.

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The very first time I set foot there was in 2007. Since then, I have returned to Sekinchan regularly; all of those years I’ve been observing the transformation of the land, watching the color and texture of the land change in different seasons.

They harvest the Sekinchan paddy two times a year (June and December). For me, during and after harvest are what I like the most, when the color and form of the land is incredibly unique.

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In this series of paintings, my focus is on the varied transformation of the fields during the harvest time. At this time, the look of the paddy fields is distinct – giant yellow harvesting machines are everywhere in the fields, leaving traces everywhere they pass, like intentional calligraphy or mystical contour lines drawn on the earth, stretching very far away towards the horizon.

During the harvest process, you’ll frequently see rows and rows of excavated soil laying nakedly right next to green fields, which are yet to be harvested. It gives a clear description of the life cycle of a paddy.

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For the past 20 years I’ve been observing and photographing Malaysian landscapes, and I can’t help but sigh with regret when I notice a place of nature that is different, changed, vanished, or destroyed. I understand that the earth can survive even when faced with the power of development, but the melencholy still rises silently in my heart.

But by making this series of works, I’ve realized something else, too.

In Sekinchan the earth changes regularly. In just a short time, you can see its pattern, its uncertainties, just like life. If you’re willing to look, nature is a good teacher. It can help us to perceive the aesthetic of life, both physically and spiritually.

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And what I take from Sekinchan is this: nothing is permanent—but without impermanence, we stagnate. It’s worth it to see the cycle come again.

Special thanks to Chen Wei Meng for sharing his insight and process! To see more of his art, please visit www.chenweimeng.com

*Note: this post may contain affiliate links*

Art reproduction company TOPofART recently sent me the time-lapse video below, and it blew my mind—I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. :) Enjoy!

If you're curious, the painting in the video was commissioned by a film. . . read more

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