Malaysian Artist Blends Culture and the Trans Voices in “Un/Hidden Identities: Painting Lives” Exhibit

by Naomi Grace Cavaneyro
The Heart of the Hearth
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In this edition of SEAtizens, we feature Sack Tin Lim, a Malaysian artist who shines a light on the Malaysian trans community’s lives and the mundaneness of it all through an art exhibit that depicts cultural representation that humanizes the experiences of the community.


Lim considers the way that the trans community live as “flamboyant mannerisms prompted a mix of fascination and unfamiliarity. I want to paint alongside them as an ally who really appreciates and respects their identity. I am holding their hands and painting their portraits. I paint with empathy,” he said in an interview with FMT Lifestyle.


Princess Angel



Sack resided in a transgender shelter home with an undisclosed location for a few weeks to properly depict the trans community he wanted to feature. As seen in the artwork above, the portraits show the members doing daily tasks as simple as applying make-up.

All 20 pieces he created are inspired by real-life individuals who turned from strangers to friends the longer he stayed. He painted his subjects on weekends since the shelter was far from his studio and he was a full-time lecturer on the weekdays.

As he continued painting the portraits in the span of seven months, he found out that much like Malaysia’s culture, the trans community was diverse. They were marginalized and human too and that meant that they deserved to be seen and respected.

Despite the current cultural and political climate, Sack is no activist. He wants you to see the stories and hear the diverse voices of the trans community that’s akin to Malaysia’s culture.

View “Un/Hidden Identities: Painting Lives” at G13 gallery’s website.


How do the paintings make you feel? Comment your thoughts below.


SEA Wave magazine’s SEAtizens initiative is a series of inspiring stories of people in Southeast Asia who champion the human spirit by demonstrating courage, ingenuity, generosity, and selflessness.

For more about Southeast Asian stories and pop culture trends visit

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