Marlene Dumas Essay

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Marlene Dumas

The South Africa-born-54-year-old painter is vibrant, funny, and engaging, full of the qualities the people find endearing. But then, people look at much of her work that is brooding, sexual, and has tones of pornography. This disconnection between the artist and her work is precisely why her work is so captivating. The relation between art and female beauty, art, and pornography, female models and models of art have been a constant theme for Marlene Dumas. Her work shows painterly gestures of Expressionism, while combining with Conceptual art along with the pleasures of eroticism. Her exhibitions are organized according to specific subjects Dumas has examined throughout her 30-year career, including children, pregnant women, the dead, and the female nude. Some of her images originate from polaroid’s of friends, lovers, magazines, and porno pictures. She investigates the human conditions through portraiture, figuration, and her ongoing, painterly exploration of the body as she comments on the state of painting today.

Marlene Dumas was born on 1953 in Cape Town, South Africa. She graduated from the University of Cape Town with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1975. She then continued studying art at the Ateliers ’63, Haarlem, in the Netherlands (1976-1978). She studied psychology in Holland for two years in 1979 at the Psychological Institute of the University of Amsterdam. She currently lives and works in Amsterdam and continues her paintings.

Her experience of living as a female under the racism and harsh social structures of South African Apartheid has influenced much of her subject matter. Many of her works are critical of hypocritical societal issues and stereotypes.
Racism, sexuality, religion, motherhood, and childhood are all presented in Dumas’s paintings with brutal honesty. It is known that “Dumas’s portraits might seem to

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