Nirmala Dutt Shanmughalingam

b. 1941, d. 2016, Penang, Malaysia

Nirmala Dutt Shanmughalingam studied under Hoessein Enas, one of Malaysia’s most recognized, early painters, before continuing her studies in America. Nirmala undertook classes in drawing, painting and art history at the Corcoran School of Art in Washington DC and in Massachusetts at both the Boston College of Art and Harvard Universities Fogg Museum. After some years in England studying at Oxford Polytechnic (Oxford Brooks University), she returned to Malaysia, where she was notably considered to be the first artist to exhibit an installation piece at the National Gallery.

Returning to England in 1992, she studied printmaking at Goldsmiths and undertook a Masters of Philosophy at University College London, forming a body of research titled “Art Against War and the Creative Process.” Ever engaging with difficult topics, from the poor-living conditions and child-abuse occurring in Malaysia, to the Vietnam War, the bombing of Libya and the rampant deforestation of the environment, her last body of work looked at the impact of the 2004 Tsunami which devastated Southeast Asia killing almost a quarter of a million people.

Her work has been exhibited internationally at the National Gallery of Thailand, the Fukuoka Art Museum (Japan), the Barbican Centre (London), and the Singapore Art Museum. In addition, she participated in ‘Breaking the Veils: Women Artists of the Islamic World’ a touring exhibition organized jointly by UNESCO and the Royal Society of Fine Arts in Jordan.

Biography information from Asia Art Pacific, July 2023

Country: Malaysia