Marlene Dumas

Marlene Dumas

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"There is the image (source photography) you start with and the image (the painted image) you end up with, and they are not the same. I wanted to give more attention to what the painting does to the image, not only to what the image does to the painting."

Taken from  Marlene Dumas, The Image as Burden exhibition booklet at Tate Modern.

 

"Drawing is closer to whispering into someone's ear,

while painting is more like the ear itself.

It contains all that has every entered there.

It listens more than it speaks.

It throws speech into the dark.

Painting is not speechless.

It overflows.

It is a drunken mermaid's song."

Taken from the exhibition description on the wall

 

 

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Rejects, 1994-2014

The brush stroke of ink and the line graphite in this piece is quite child-like, but that's what beautiful about it. Dumas has transformed portrait images of people into a distinctive style of drawing. The photography has been manipulated into series of painting that's perhaps even more interesting than the actual photos. It's like Dumas added her own personality to each of the face, while the photograph can only capture the feature of the face, but not the other way around with the personality of the photographer. One of the method she did in some of the portraits here, is to cut out the eyes of the portrait and stick another paper with the eyes on the back. I thought that I could somehow use this technique in collage or as a way to manipulate the image, as it gives a bit of haunted impression when I first saw Dumas's work.I would not have known how she painted the piece unless seen in the exhibition. 

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The Teacher (sub A), 1987

Genetic Longing, 1984

I love the paintings done by Marlene Dumas because the way she manipulates the colours and facial feature of the original photograph into paintings. The similarity in these two pieces is that the facial feature is distorted with the use of colour. In The Teacher, even though it's a recognizable portraiture painting, all the students and the teacher's faces are covered with another layer of paint concealing the real skin tone or the detail on their faces. It's almost like they all have cartoon-like facial expressions. I felt weird looking at it, but at the same time, the image keeps inviting me to keep looking at it because of the colours on everyone's face. Similarly to The Teacher, Genetic Longing is a portrait with similar colored face, but the use of colour is much more striking than The Teacher. The contrast between warm and cool tones works really well in bringing my attention to the face. The overall atmosphere of these two work is quite dreamy even though the original photos were supposed to be rigid and serious as portraiture style because Dumas's use of colour and wiggling brush strokes. I think I could use her technique in covering the face in collage experimentation I'll be doing as surrealists often hide the identity of the figure by covering any faces in the painting. 

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