The Blindfolded Man, 2007
Oil on canvas
39 1/2 x 35 1/2 inches, 100 x 90 cm [Image Via]
If you find yourself at MoMA... just to reiterate, it's one of the best painting shows to ever hit a NY museum. two floors, beautifully installed. I like this review myself:
One might not expect the painter responsible for such harrowing canvases as Dead Marilyn (Monroe, post autopsy) and "The Blindfolded" (a series depicting torture victims) to laugh heartily and often, or to describe herself as "jolly," but that’s Marlene Dumas for you. On the phone from her studio in Amsterdam, the 55-year-old South African artist is taking a break from arranging 70 paintings and 35 drawings on a MoMA floor plan in preparation for her retrospective, "Measuring Your Own Grave," scheduled to open Sunday 14. (The exhibition started at the Museum of Contemporary Art in L.A., and will travel to Houston's Menil Collection after its New York run.)
"I'm extremely happy that the show is in the U.S. for the new presidency!" Dumas says. She speaks, disarmingly, in exclamation marks, her Afrikaans-tinted words bumping together in breathless clusters. "It’s interesting how the atmosphere of the times can change one’s whole spirit." The country's mood may shift with events (and certainly has since 2003, say, when, shortly after the Iraq war started, the artist mounted a show in Chicago replete with images of violence and death), but Dumas's subject matter is unlikely to. "Certain things stay the same," she insists, "whether you've got a good or bad political system, we all have to die anyway."
It is the monumental elements of human life--death, sex, violence, race--that the artist is concerned with. But while her figures often find themselves bruised and battered, in sexually explicit poses or dead, Dumas wishes her work weren’t so frequently summed up by a list of grim descriptors. "I would like [viewers] to forget a bit what other people have said or what I've said," she laments. And she insists that the gloomy timbre of her oils is not a reflection of a morbid outlook (the title of the show, she explains, is about fitting a figure into the boundaries of a canvas--and also achieving immortality through painting). "The act of painting is a positive one," she says. "The fact that you want to make an image, want to use paint, want to use your body to express something--there is a pleasure in the making of things."