"I use second hand images and first hand emotions." – Marlene Dumas
Completed in 1998, Erika fits firmly within the canon of Marlene Dumas’ notable style and exhibits many of the techniques she has used to solidify her place amongst the most prominent living artists today. Often focusing on the human form, Dumas explores questions surrounding gender, sexuality, race, social issues, as well as the condition of human emotions.
Dumas’ technique of using ink, watercolor and acrylic creates a ghostlike figure that appears to float over the surface of the picture plane. This effect creates a unique and intimate experience for the viewer and initiates a conversation not present in classic portraiture. Dumas’ work draws significant influence from photography. “Dumas always works from photographs–either gathered from magazines, culled from reproductions, or taken herself–and her paintings often seem to mimic the cropping, blurring, and flattening effects of the medium. In addition to creating an uneasy fluctuation between proximity and distance, the process of translation, from photograph to painting, allows for reinscription of emotion and a diversion from the original intent or focus of the photograph” (J. Morgan, Marlene Dumas: One Hundred Models and Endless Rejects, exh. cat., Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, 2001, p. 13).
Dumas’ inspiration from photography is evident in Erika through the flatness and cropping that she embraces, yet the emotion she is able to evoke is palpable. Dumas claims her inspiration is strongly tied to memory. Her subjects and subject matter often correlate with experiences or real issues she has confronted in her life. Her ability to draw inspiration from memory to define the human form treads the fine line between abstraction and representation.