Marlene Dumas: ‘Art Is Not a Mirror’

Teeth (2018) by Marlene Dumas (Credit: Marlene Dumas/Photo: Kerry McFate).

This article gives a stimulating sample of Marlene Dumas’ painting. Here’s a whiff of its curatorial patter:

“She is a master, in the classical sense: she makes masterpieces”… Dumas [takes] us somewhere beyond prosaic materiality… “[Faces and portraits by Dumas contain] a variety of experiences, a plurality of knowledge and truth, but all have a real, lived origin, and at the same time are of a timeless nature…”Sensuous but cerebral, cruel but tender – Dumas’s work has overturned the aesthetic of portraiture, stripping back the veneer to reveal something loathsome and visceral but also sublime.

Sad Romy (2008) by Marlene Dumas (Credit: Marlene Dumas/Photo: Peter Cox, Eindhoven).


More useful are Dumas’ words that “art is not a mirror,” and that “a good work of art is essentially elusive.” It’s also instructive to learn that for her portraiture Dumas works from “myriad newspaper cuttings, books and Polaroids that [clutter] her Amsterdam studio…”

Evil is Banal (1984) by Marlene Dumas (Credit: Marlene Dumas/Photo: Peter Cox, Eindhoven)

(Deborah Nicholls-Lee, Marlene Dumas: The art exposing the evil in the ordinary,”, 10-18-21)

(c) 2021 JMN — EthicalDative. All rights reserved

About JMN

I live in Texas and devote much of my time to easel painting on an amateur basis. I stream a lot of music, mostly jazz, throughout the day. I like to read and memorize poetry.
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1 Response to Marlene Dumas: ‘Art Is Not a Mirror’

  1. Wow! Really interesting work. Thanks for informing me.


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