Mutalib Man

Mutalib Man is an artist based in London, born in Alor Setar, Malaysia. He was trained at The MARA University of Technology, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and The London College of Printing in Graphic Design.

His work so calm and elegant, one senses, contained within the parameter of western minimalism, the spiritual and contemplative essence that is Mutalib Man’s Malaysian heritage. The compulsion to connect with this heritage and give it voice is the driving force of this sculpture and painting.

How can the spiritual be engaged within an alien language? Only by persistence, integrity and a wholly committed dedication.

There can be no guide to style of expression for the artist, who must find what means are at his disposal and perhaps it was during the period of his training at the London College of Printing that Mutalib first saw the possibility of a language that he intuited could serve him in a way that the figurative style, which had won him prizes at school, could not.

This work is above all thoughtful. Meaning is prioritised over formal considerations. Egotism and self expression have no part in it. Having rejected illusionism there remain the possibilities of sign and symbol and in this Mutalib was fortunate, his profound identification with the materials, artefacts, plants and customs familiar to him from his Malaysian background and the belief that these form part of his very identity make these themes valid as conveyors of human spirituality and emotion.

Unusually rich in their combined provenances, Malay, Chinese and Indian, the same signifiers can be seen recurring through the work whether in painting or sculpture. The perfect form of the coconut, with its associations of nourishment and usefulness, its history, its ability to travel by sea to establish itself in new lands, the sand employed in Zen gardens the material of the sarong, all have manifested themselves, and now more surprisingly, ping pong balls.

Ping Pong 2 is a motif which first featured in a site specific instillation where several of the slender poles with their ping pong balls gracefully integrated themselves as natural inhabitants of the surrounding foliage, and the single one alone proves equally able to impose its presence in a gallery. It could be seen as a more delicate cousin of the robust coconut, interacting with the straight linesof its enclosing architecture.

In the series Sea Sauce, each painting has its own mood and character, fast or slow, animated as in a swirl of bacteria, (which themselves are usually spherical or rod-like), seen under a microscope, calm as in fallen twigs floating on a pool, the colours quiet but sensual.

The marks, in Indian ink and oil paint, composing this microbic protozoa are again in miniature form, the line and circle. As in the notes of the music of the gamelan, as in the voices of a Buddhist chant, the rhythms form, transmute, equipoised in their relationship to each other and to the whole, transmitting a sense of harmony.

The creation of the personal language necessary to an artist is a hard task, no ready made style will do, and from his scrutiny of developments in the art of Japan, Europe and the Americas and Australia he has learnt much, Mutalib Man is a serious and original artist of whom his country can be proud.

Natalie Dower


The Coloured Mass: Art and Artists in the Twickenham Area from Tudor Times to 21st Century by David G C Allen, 2009



2013  The Parlour, Frome, Frome Art Festival

2011  Cycles, M2 Gallery, London

1995  Tricycle gallery, London

Group Shows

2019  Politic of Moisture, Siger Gallery, London

2019  Affordable Art Fair, Hong Kong, Siger Gallery

2019  Affordable Art Fair, Singapore, Singer Gallery

2018  M2 ( At ) 15, Birthday Celebration, M2 Gallery at APT Gallery , London

2018  Affordable Art Fair, Hong Kong, Siger Gallery

2017  Clash, Siger Gallery , London

2011  Contemporary Sculptures, TJ Fine Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

2010  Connection, T J Fine Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

          The Parlour, Frome, Frome Art Festival

2009 Short listed for the Jerwood Drawing Prize, Jerwood Space, London

2007  Barlow Lyde & Gilbert, City of London

          London Group Open, London

2006  Celeste Art Prize, London

2002  Taksu Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

2001  Art Future, Contemporary Arts Society, The Barbican, London

1996  3 Rooms, Adam Gallery, London

1995  White Out, Curwen Gallery, London

1994  Between Psychology & Art, Diorama, London

          John Jones Open, London


1996  Awarded Artist in Residence at Rimbun Dahan, Kuala Lumpur,                                          
Malaysian/ Australian Art Foundation


3 works in the collection of the National Art Gallery of Malaysia

Collection of Datuk & Datin Azizan bin Jaafar , Kuala Lumpur Malaysia.

Christopher & Marian Bruce

Showcase artwork