Marlene Dumas at Tate Modern



There's not much time left if you want to check out this exhibition. I wasn't planning to go even though a couple of friends had enthused about it. You see, I looked up her work on the internet...and didn't much like what I saw.

Why? Well, because I can't be doing with the depiction of so much figurative stuff, such as babies and toddlers, women revealing their undercarriages, portraits of celebrities like Amy Winehouse, Princess Diana or Naomi Campbell, general nudity and an endless supply of  heads. So I guess it's the subject matter that puts me off; the obsession with Homo Sapiens. Don't misunderstand me here, I'm not shocked by the pornographic element in some of these images... and I don't mind a bit of figuration, but this seemed too much, too repetitive. I'm afraid I just don't find the human form eternally interesting, especially ad infinitum.

So last weekend when we went to the the Sonia Delaunay (15 April - 9 August) exhibition I wanted to pop in and see if I was justified in my opinion. Well, I was right to expect maximum figuration and a myriad of portraits but some of the pornographic-type images I witnessed on the internet were missing (unless I missed them). Maybe the taste police (curators) omitted them. I don't know now if I was relieved about this or disappointed.

I enjoyed the show more that I was expecting though. Much more detail and texture is revealed, especially in the tearing of paper and other collage effects. The work below was a welcome break from all the bodies and heads. Little snippets of letter writing have been taped to the edges of this piece, which has aged quite beautifully. Personal fragments written to the artist are quite humorous in places. Sorry you can't see the detail here...but I guess you'll have to go and see for yourself.


Don't talk to strangers 1977


I also liked the rubbed out quality of the work below. Thinners have been used to partially erase the picture.


Scope Magazine Pin-up 1973


Here's the torn effect I mentioned...

Rejects (detail)

There is more than meets the eye in her work. Politics, art history, popular culture and current affairs are frequently underpinning the figuration along with such themes as sexuality, love and death. It can't be taken at 'face' value and this is one of the reasons why looking at an artists work via Google Images is sometimes a bad idea when you want to asses the full scope of their oeuvre.

On until 10 May.







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