ARTIST NAME: Marlene Dumas
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Marlene Dumas Biography:
Marlene Dumas was born on 1953 in Cape Town and graduated
from the University of Cape Town with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1975. She
studied psychology in Holland for two years (1979--1980). Since then she has had
numerous exhibitions and her reputation has steadily grown.Marlene Dumas makes
paintings with no concept of the taboo. Racism, sexuality, religion, motherhood
and childhood are all presented with chilling honesty. Undermining universally
held belief systems, Dumas corrupts the very way images are negotiated. Stripped
of the niceties of moral consolation, Marlene Dumas's work provokes unmitigated
horror. She offers no comfort to the viewer, only an unnerving complicity and
confusion between victims and oppressors.
‘I don't have any conception of how big an average head is, I've never been interested in anatomy. In that respect I relate like children do. What is experienced as most important is seen as the biggest, irrespective of actual or factual size. In the movies everything is larger than life and yet you experience that as real(istic); all my faces are much bigger than human scale. From blowing up to zooming in, for me the “close-up” was a way of getting rid of irrelevant background information and by making the facial elements so big, it increased the sense of abstraction concerning the picture frame. The elimination of the background also did away with the place of being and environmental context.'
‘As the isolation of a recognisable figure increases and the narrative character decreases (contrary to what one might initially assume that this lack of illustrative information would bring about), the interpretative effects are inflamed. The titles re-direct the work, however, they do not eradicate the inherent ambiguity. One cannot interpret the painting of Jule-die Vrou without entangling some of the root metaphors applied not only to the female, but to the idea of portrayal in general'. Marlene Dumas, 1992.
Marlene Dumas's provocative paintings of women, children, celebrities and people of colour are as psychologically disturbing as they are violently beautiful. Championing the under-represented classes, her characters occupy an unholy ground where the viewer's individual morality, ethics and adherence to ideological convention are questioned.