Narong Daun may come across as a very timid individual, but talk to her about art and you’ll see her spirit and passion shine through.
Hailing from Kampung Garung at Jalan Puncak Borneo, the petite silk painter in her 40s took a liking to art while she was in primary school at SRB St. Patrick Semadang, and through sheer determination became one of the most successful and respected artists in Sarawak, with her painting gracing homes in different parts of the world.
Narong is best known for her nature-inspired semi-abstract art painted on silk, with her signature being the hornbill.
“I’m not sure if you notice, but I always paint my hornbill in this sort of pattern,” she said while pointing at the hornbill head in her painting titled ‘Forest Gift’, which she painted exclusively for the BorneoTalk Privilege Card’s Narong Daun Series.
“I tried to use other motifs and patterns for my hornbill paintings but they just don’t speak to me. So I decided to go with the checkerboard pattern, and that has become my signature to this day.
“I focus only on the head because to me, the hornbill signifies confidence and strength. There are also specific meanings to the number of hornbills
I put in one painting. For example, one hornbill represents just me, going out there to face the society with confidence. Two hornbills signify a relationship between mother and father or mother and son… it’s about relationships. If it’s three or more, it represents family or the society.”
Narong is extremely particular when it comes to painting, which is why it takes time for her to finish just a single piece.
“I usually spend a week, sometimes a month to complete one painting. If it were a large piece, I would spend more than a month on it.“
I can finish a painting within just a few hours without putting my feeling into it. But it won’t be fair for me because that’s the only time when I can enjoy myself. I cannot force myself if I don’t have the mood to paint,” she said.
For ‘Forest Gift’, she spent five solid days painting it. But the result is a breath-taking piece of nature-inspired art. ‘Forest Gift’ is one of four exclusive paintings that will be gracing the Narong Daun Series BorneoTalk Privilege Card.
Drawing inspiration from nature that surrounds her, Narong’s paintings are always one of a kind. And with more than a decade of experience from her stints at Fabriko, ARTrageously Ramsay Ong and Nelson’s gallery among others, as well as numerous art exhibitions, Narong Daun is today a formidable force in the art world.