Marlene Dumas: The Image as Burden

Dec 3, 2014 2:43PM
"Magdalena (Venus)" (1995) is reproduced from 
Marlene Dumas: The Image as Burden, the exhibition catalogue to the traveling retrospective currently on view at The Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, and available at our booth at Art Basel Miami December 3-7. Anke Bangma writes, "The character of the Mary Magdalene as well as the body of the supermodel Naomi Campbell form the departure point for Dumas’s latest paintings. Within the presentations of the feminine, the figure of Mary Magdalene holds
a singular position. The relationship between mother and daughter, foremost in feminist philosophy as the source of an unspoken feminine pleasure, is denied her. Mary Magdalene is the polar opposite of Maria, the ideal woman. She is neither virgin nor mother, which makes her pleasure, to a masculine logic, a profound sin. The conventional depictions of Mary Magdalene thus show her in a purifying state of melancholy or ecstasy. In contrast, Dumas’ darkMagdalenas are unswerving, awesome figures that assertively hold their heads upright. That their breasts and genitals are mostly kept hidden does not in any way diminish their erotic aura; their sensuality is merely transferred to their long legs and their sumptuously undulating hair… Hung next to one another, the individual images form a mass of distinctions. Dumas’ women do not allow themselves to get trapped by one image of the feminine."