Kissing or Dying, Marlene Dumas



In 2014 I spent part of the year in Holland. The Stedelijk Museum presented a Marlene Dumas retrospective, The Image as Burden, titled after a painting of the same name. Dumas, a South African artist who trained and settled in the Netherlands uses newspaper and magazine photographs as source material, painting images repeatedly until the image becomes her own. Themes of death, race and sex run throughout her work, the museums website has a video clip of her speaking about her work and here's a link to a 2008 interview with Christopher Bagley prior to a mid career survey in LA.  Several of her works stick with me. The ink drawings are extremely fluid and forms evaporate in front of your eyes. The paintings translate that fluidity into a further dissolution of form. Her most successful works are the ones with the greatest restraint, when the portraits breathe and the flesh trembles and the paint is barely there.

Marlene Dumas, Stern, 2014

Marlene Dumas, The Kiss, 2014

Marlene Dumas, The Image as Burden Installation, 2014

Marlene Dumas, detail, The Image as Burden Installation, 2014


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