Lives and Works: Perth
Desmond Mah (Chinese name: Ma Fumin, b: 1974) is a Singapore-born, Chinese-Australian artist. He is a second generation Chinese, born outside China. He graduated from Loughborough University (UK) with a BA (Hons) in Painting and LaSalle College of the Arts (Singapore) with a Diploma in Painting. He established his art practice in 2016, after working years as a high school teacher and landscape designer. He lives and works currently in Perth.
He has participated in various exhibitions in Perth, Sydney and Beijing. His most notable collector is Judith Neilson (White Rabbit Collection, Sydney, Australia). He grew up spending his childhood in a Chinese Taoist temple (the 1970s in Singapore) and moving to a Western society country (the late 1980s - Present in Perth, Australia). He is motivated by a deep concern of diaspora, migration and alienation associated with his personal experiences and histories of racial discrimination in Australia. The rise of China creates complications for Chinese Australians and the wider Chinese diaspora.
Drawing from his Chinese heritage and the western world he lives in, he articulates the shifting forms of cultural identity from his memories. His painting is a cautious balance between chaos and composure, abstract and figurative, flat and tactile, drawing and painting. His complex painting is rooted in personal narratives, collective memory and mythology. His paintings illustrate his cross-cultural world where things from the past, the present and the future can co-exists together. He has chosen to broaden the scope of contemporary painting by incorporating scent into his works. The scents from materials such as crushed incense, soya sauce, Chinese ink and pandan leaves have deep associations with his childhood and self. These extracts mixed with paint are to trigger a sense of familiarity or unfamiliarity, providing another dimension of complexity and engagement with his work.
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