Nirmala Dutt (b. 1941, Malaysia) has been painting since the early 1960’s and has participated in numerous group exhibitions both in Malaysia and internationally. She began her training under Mohamed Hoessein Enas and went on to art schools in the United States and the U.K., returning to Malaysia in 1978. 

She has since become a prominent figure in Malaysian art. A pioneer in many senses, being the first artist to exhibit an installation piece at the National Art Gallery in 1973, and one of the first artists to make use of documentary photography in her work, and to engage with "public art" through the distribution of work by mail, she has since become a prominent figure in Malaysian art. Certainly one of the region’s most important women artists, she has remained committed to using art to awaken social conscience. “She has devoted herself during the last few years to expressing the human predicament in adverse conditions” (Contemporary Paintings of Malaysia, 1988).

Her paintings of the 80s and 90s have been provoked by international atrocities of the century - the Vietnam War, environmental pollution, the Beirut conflict, the deforestation of Malaysia’s jungles, the tragic war in Bosnia, often integrating newspaper images and text. More recently she has grappled with issues of rape and child abuse in Malaysia, in an installation-based exhibition Virgin Spring Today & Siti, and in 2005, she produced a powerful and unsettling body of paintings, Tsunami 2004-2005. Photo-silk screened newspaper images and bold gashes of paint are worked into a tight compositional grid, fusing reportage with aesthetic principle and creating an art, which strikes through the eye to reach the social conscience. 

 

 

 
 
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