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Marlene Dumas (b. 1953)
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Marlene Dumas (b. 1953)

Handy

Details
Marlene Dumas (b. 1953)
Handy
signed, titled and dated 'HANDY. M DUMAS 1992' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
13¾ x 9¾in. (35 x 25cm.)
Painted in 1992
Provenance
Galerie Paul Andriesse, Amsterdam.
Bonakdar Jankou Gallery, New York.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1999.
Exhibited
Antwerp, Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst, Marlene Dumas, September 1999-January 2000 (illustrated in colour, p. 24). This exhibition later travelled to London, Camden Arts Centre, January-March 2000 and Hovikodden, Henie Ostad Kunstsenter, May-July 2000.
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Lot Essay

The extraordinary potency of Marlene Dumas's best work lies in her skill at mediating and refining the original source of an image without removing any of the detail to make it somehow palatable to the viewer. Working largely from photographic imagery, found and made, she subverts the camera's fixing gaze through the subjectivity of her aesthetic eye, endowing each work with an emotional and carnal force. In Handy, for example, the baldly vulgar yet vulnerable pose of the woman is made frighteningly seductive by Dumas's loose brush strokes and hallucinatory palette. The obvious painterly-ness of the work is deliberately at odds with its unambiguously suggestive title, provocatively exploiting the inevitable sense of guilty pleasure mixed with unease and even disgust prompted in the viewer. Yet Dumas is very clear about her tactics here: the sexually explicit material she uses as bases for her painting are taken from the sleaziest, calling cards in phone boxes end of the marked: "I use all the cheap tricks of attracting attention: eyes looking at you, sexual parts exposed or deliberately covered. The primitive pull of recognition" she has said. "My art is situated between the pornographic tendency to reveal everything and the erotic inclination to hide what it's all about."
Dumas's unapologetic positioning of her work in this way underlines her profound interest in the line where public stops and private begins but also reveals a tension in the artist's own view of gender, voyeurism and the very act of painting.

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