Marlene Dumas

South Africa / The Netherlands / °1953 / / wikipedia
Marlene Dumas (3 Aug. 1953) is a South African born artist and painter who lives and works in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. In the past Dumas produced paintings, collages, drawings, prints and installations. She now works mainly with oil on canvas and ink on paper.

Dumas attended the University of Cape Town in Cape Town, South Africa from 1972-1975 and relocated to Amsterdam in 1976, where she attended the University of Amsterdam as a student of painting and psychology from 1979-1980. In 1984, Dumas started painting heads and figures. A series of paintings she executed in the mid-1980s, titled "The Eyes of the Night Creatures", explores recurring themes in the artist's oeuvre, including racial and ethical intolerance. The White Disease (1985) is a painting of an ageing South African woman with pale blue eyes taken from a medical photograph. The painting projects the disease of apartheid and Dumas acknowledges it as one of her favourites. Christie's auction lot notes observes that the painting recalls the influence of predecessors such as Egon Schiele and Leon Golub. Translucent white paint creates a ghostly shade, alluding to the subject's illness, while water-saturated colors gives the portrait an unreal transparency, suggesting the fugitive nature of life. The shape of the nose is replaced by a simple blob of pink color, symbolising a loss of humanity and the subject's indifference to her state.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Dumas produced a series of works based around the subject of pregnancy and babies. In 1987, she gave birth to her daughter, Helena, and a great body of work followed. The most compelling is The First People, which is a series of 4 canvases devoted to newborn infants. Each painting is large (many times greater than life-size) and each is composed vertically. She does not idealize her images; instead the babies are unattractive, squirming little beings with gnarled fingers and toes, boated ...(
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