‘I don’t know if I’ve succeeded, but I’ve always wanted my paintings to be more like movies or other art forms, where the work stimulates discussion in all kinds of directions.’
One of the most distinctive voices in contemporary art, Marlene Dumas (b. 1953 Cape Town) has radically expanded the vocabulary of painting. Many of Dumas’s works emerge from her substantial archive of images, which covers everything from art history to mass media and personal photographs. Her subjects include the crucifixion of Christ, a police mugshot of Phil Spector, portraits of Amy Winehouse, or a dead member of the Red Army Faction. In Lucy (2004) she reimagined the central figure in Caravaggio’s Burial of St Lucy. Drawing upon a range of different traditions, from the gestural language of expressionism to the critical distance of conceptual art, she reclaims different images, transforming them into vibrant, spectral presences. 'Second-hand images', she has said, 'can generate first-hand emotions’. Her fearless gaze absorbs everything with equal intensity, yet her work always returns to the pleasures of looking.
In 2008, the retrospective exhibition Marlene Dumas: Measuring Your Own Grave, was staged at The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, which toured to The Museum of Modern Art, New York and The Menil Collection, Houston. In 2014, the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam presented the substantial exhibition Marlene Dumas: The Image as Burden, which travelled to Tate Modern, London, and the Fondation Beyeler, Basel. In 2017, Dumas created new Altarpiece for the Annenkirche, Dresden, a permanent installation made in collaboration with Jan Andriesse and Bert Boogaard.