Marlene Dumas: Myths & Mortals
Marlene Dumas, Claire Messud, bookdesign Filiep Tack
David Zwirner Books, 2019
The latest from the renowned painter—Marlene Dumas’s new works respond more than ever to the uncertainty and sensuality of the painting process itself. Allowing the structure of the canvases and the materiality of the paint greater freedom to inform the development of her compositions, the artist has likened the creation of these works to the act of falling in love: an unpredictable and open-ended process that is as filled with awkwardness and anxiety as it is with bliss and discovery.
Myths & Mortals documents a selection of new paintings—debuted in the spring of 2018 at David Zwirner, New York—ranging from monumental nude figures to intimately scaled canvases that present details of bodily parts and facial features. Several nearly ten-foot-tall paintings focus on individual figures, including a number of male and female nudes and a seemingly solemn bride, whose expression is obscured behind a floor-length veil. Like the Greek gods and goddesses, the figures in these paintings are at once larger than life and overwhelmingly human. The smaller-scale paintings—referred to by the artist as “erotic landscapes”—present a variety of fragmentary images: eyes, lips, nipples, or lovers locked in a kiss. Evident across all of these works is the artist’s uniquely sensitive treatment of the human form and her constantly evolving experimentation with color and texture.
Alongside these new paintings, Dumas presents an expansive series of thirty-two works on paper originally created for a Dutch translation of William Shakespeare’s narrative poem Venus & Adonis(1593) by Hafid Bouazza (2016). Myths & Mortals is accompanied by new scholarship on the artist by Claire Messud and a text by Dumas herself.