Marlene Dumas was born in 1953 in Cape Town, South Africa. Since the 1980s she has lived and worked in Amsterdam. If in the early years of her career she experimented with different media, Dumas today works principally with oil on canvas and ink on paper. Her work mainly consists of portraits, which are universal representations of the most extreme emotions: suffering, ecstasy, fear, desperation. A crucial aspect of Dumas’s work is her discovery of the images from which she draws inspiration, be it in newspapers, magazines, film stills, films or polaroids she herself has taken. Life and death, questions of gender and race, innocence and blame, violence and tenderness: these are some of the themes of her work, which combines the intimate sphere with sociopolitial questions, news stories and main topics of art history. Her work is based on an awareness that the endless flow of images we see on a daily basis impacts our perception of ourselves and our ability to read the world.
In 1995 Marlene Dumas represented Holland at the Venice Biennale. “Marlene Dumas” – “The Image as Burden” was her last great retrospective, held at the Beyeler Foundation, Basel (2015), Tate Modern, London, (2015) and the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, (2014-2015). Some of her works were shown at Punta della Dogana in the exhibition “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).