Desmond Mah

Desmond Mah (Chinese name: Ma Fumin, b: 1974) is a Singapore- born, Chinese-Australian artist. He is a second generation Chinese, bornoutside 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 currently lives and works in Perth. He has participated in various exhibitions in Perth, Sydney and Beijing and his work is in the collection of 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. 

The series of paintings in his solo exhibition SOMEWHERE TOO examines the subjective nature of memory. Drawing from his Chinese heritage and the Western world he lives in, Mah examines the shifting forms of cultural identity from his memories. His paintings are a cautious balance between chaos and composure, abstract and figurative, flat and tactile, drawing and painting. His complex approach to painting is rooted in personal narratives, collective memory and mythology. His artworks illustrate his own cross-cultural world where things from the past, the present and the future co-exists together. By applying the concept of scent to his work, crushed mediums such incense are mixed with paint to provide another dimension of complexity and engagement with his work.