Marlene Dumas (b. 1953)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE ITALIAN COLLECTION
Marlene Dumas (b. 1953)

If it's deep - Is it dark?

Marlene Dumas (b. 1953)
If it's deep - Is it dark?
signed and dated 'mDumas 1998' (lower right); titled 'If its deep - Is it dark?' (upper left); inscribed 'Thinking - Deep Dark Thoughts'
(upper right)
watercolour on paper
124.5 x 69.5 cm.
Executed in 1998
Le Case d'Arte, Milan.
D.van den Boogerd, B. Bloom & M. Casadio, Marlene Dumas, London/New York 1999 (installation view, illustrated, p. 91).
Milan, Palazzo della Triennale, Triennale di Milano - A Noir, March-April 1998.
Special notice
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.

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Christiaan van Rechteren
Christiaan van Rechteren

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Lot Essay

'At art school in the 1970s, it was clear that no-one was inspired by the nude drawing classes any more. The women (of colour) who posed at the university had been there for many many years. Being a model had become their occupation. They had posed themselves into (still life-like) generalized objects, devoid of erotic (or any kind of) energy. The rare occasions that the male nude (white) was acquired, it led to giggles or indifference but not to concentration. Now it seems that it was not the nude I was looking for, nor the posing figure, but the erotic conditions of life that I was after.' (Marlene Dumas quoted in D. van den Boogerd, Marlene Dumas, London 1999, p. 122).

The oeuvre of Marlene Dumas revolves around an understanding of the human figure as some sort of visual lexicon of a psychologically revealing narrative and on how the body in all its awkwardness or ease of posture can speak volumes about the nature of the human condition as a whole. It is this unique and highly individualistic aspect of the body that is often caught unaware on camera and Dumas uses these photographs for her fluid and almost intuitive painting. The diluted watercolour, a favourite medium of the artist, seems to be completed in a single continuous flow of the brush, reinforcing the impression of a man caught unaware of the outside world, lost in his own thoughts. The medium bleeds into the paper, highlighting the hunched posture of the man and his inward gaze, bestowing intensity and emotion to the work.
Dumas' work appears to have a clear erotic aspect: the naked torso and the implicit title heighten the sense that there is something taboo happening; yet she has also made the viewer complicit in this act. She has placed the entire nature of viewing, of art, of display and of viewing under scrutiny, implying that it may be the viewer, rather than the subject hunched cautiously in the picture, who is the one thinking deep, dark thoughts. The image itself has thus taken on a new life, a new existence and a new status through the artist's intervention and the viewer's interpretation.

'No, it's suggestive, it suggests all sorts of narratives, but it doesn't really tell you what's going on at all. Someone said that it feels as if something has happened, in the sense of an after-event, or alternatively that something's going to happen but you don't yet know what it is. It's as if I can make people think they are so close to me - that they believe I've addressed the painting directly to them. I give them a false sense of intimacy. I think the world invites you to have a conversation with it' (Marlene Dumas, quoted in B. Bloom, 'Interview', pp. 7-29, D. van den Boogerd, Marlene Dumas, London 1999, p. 12).

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