Marlene Dumas was born in 1953 in Cape Town, South Africa. She grew up and studied fine arts during the brutal Apartheid regime. In 1976, she came to Europe for further studies and settled in Amsterdam, where she still lives and works. If in the early years of her career she was known for her collages and texts, Marlene Dumas today works mainly with oil on canvas and ink on paper. Her work largely consists of portraits, which are universal representations of suffering, ecstasy, fear, desperation, but are also often comments on the act of painting itself. A crucial aspect of her work is her use of images from which she draws inspiration, be it in newspapers, magazines, film stills, films or polaroids she herself has taken. Of her work she says: “I am an artist who uses second-hand images and first-hand emotions”. (1) Love and death, gender and race, innocence and blame, violence and tenderness are the major questions she raises, and which combine the intimate sphere with socio-political aspects, news stories and main topics of art history. Her work is based on an awareness that the endless flow of images we see daily impacts our perception of ourselves and our ability to read the world. For her, painting is a very physical act, revolving around eroticism and its different histories.
Her work was included at Punta della Dogana in the exhibitions "Untitled, 2020" (2020), “Prima Materia” (2013-15) and “Mapping the Studio”(2009-11) and at Palazzo Grassi in “The World Belongs to You” (2011-12) and “Sequence 1” (2007).
(1) Marlene Dumas, Sweet Nothings. Notes and Texts, first edition Galerie Paul Andriesse and De Balie Publishers Amsterdam, 1998; and second edition (revised and expanded) Koenig Books London, 2014.