Marthe Dumas : Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Gabriella Cleuren, 2015

Marthe Dumas : Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam

Gabriella Cleuren


Seeing M. Dumas’ impressive art at her exhibition in the Stedeliijk Museum of Amsterdam, (and more reading about her art), for me related to the French expressionist Rouault both in the way of painting sometimes and of content.

Being a South-African, in her childhood she was certainly confronted with a world of ‘apartheid’ with brutality, racism, injustice , exploitation, where black people were not seen as equal human beings, a defenseless  feeling  must have gone  through the unconscious and given birth to the sublime later. In her art we see the beauty of the ugly, the overwhelming.

Her paintings of them show another view, with dignity, as varied as specimen of humans: just black, just mental ill, just children , just women,  different in expression, varies like human beings do.

In 1972 she wrote: ‘ I transform objects’. Found or chosen photos are her source of inspiration. And during the gesture of painting, the speed and action,  she intuitively fills them with meaning, coming up to her like water bubbling  up from a well.  The picture is transformed in : vulnerability, imposed sexuality, torture ,injustice, slavery, abuse , equality , expectation (Turkish girls) innocence and oppression (Angels) , expulsion, treatment (Algerian woman), extreme isolation (Christ) and desperation (Against the wall- Burial- Waterproof mascara .,-Broken white-  Mother) It is “la  condition humain”, the futility of life.

The technique is fluent, free, and  extremely mastered.

A fantastic artist; witness of mankind in the 21st century.

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