Shaq Koyok's art reflects a personal and political drive to share his Orang Asli heritage


‘It is quite tough to be an artist and activist at the same time. I never planned for it to work out this way, but I am embracing it, ’ says Shaq, standing next to his Mah Meri-inspired painting 'Sacred Sea Dance' at Richard Koh Fine Art gallery in KL. Photo: The Star/Glenn Guan

Orang Asli artist Shaq Koyok was just a boy when life in the village as he knew it changed. A land developer came into the jungle surrounding his kampung and got to work.

“I remember lorries carrying logs from the jungle. I also heard chainsaws and trees being felled. I remember how the village roads were damaged and it made it so hard for the villagers to go out, ” recalls Shaq (real name Shahar Koyok), who hails from the Temuan indigenous community in Selangor.

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