Mun Sen, Yong (1896–1962) By Chuah, Kelvin
Yong Mun Sen was a prominent watercolorist born in Sarawak, Malaysia, and is acknowledged as one of the country’s pioneer artists. His watercolor landscapes and depictions of life present visual histories of British Malaya, and his subject matter ranges from tropical scenes to farming imagery to local architecture. A self-taught painter, Mun Sen’s residence in Singapore and subsequent permanent relocation to Penang created his fruitful artistic relationships with artists based in both locations. Notably, Mun Sen went for plein air trips with his peers in Singapore and Penang, which was an art activity not previously practiced by local artists in the area but most suitable for watercolor productions. Artists active in Penang before World War II also held gatherings at Mun Sen’s photographic studio. This group of artists formed the Penang Chinese Art Club (1935) with Mun Sen serving as vice-president. Mun Sen also contributed to the formation of the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, Singapore (1938). As Tan Chong Guan has written, local and foreign patrons collected Mun Sen’s watercolors, including Malcolm MacDonald, the governor-general of British Malaya. Mun Sen was nationally recognized with exhibitions at The National Art Gallery of Malaysia and also the State Museum of Penang, both in 1972.