Marlene Dumas, born in Cape Town, South Africa, in 1953, has been living and working in Amsterdam for over 40 years and is among the most significant artists working today. In her drawings and paintings, she transforms the existential experiences of human life-such as love, death, power and powerlessness-into vivid pictures. These works are loosely based on photographs, yet Dumas does not depict people but images of people. Her main interest is the portrait.
In her paintings and drawings, she avoids anecdotal details or atmospheric foregrounds or backgrounds and makes existential constitution of her figures visible. She prefers the term "situation" for a moment that is immediately touching. Suffering, pain, desire, life, death – Dumas always renders visible the ambivalence of each image, of each feeling. Like a projection surface, her painting mirrors fears and hopes.
Skulls, 2011–15. By Marlene Dumas. Oil on canvas. Albertinum, Dresden.
October 17, 2017–January 14, 2018
Like many of her series, "Skulls" (2011-2015) on display in the Albertinum, is a conceptual work as the impact of the series as a whole is achieved in the sum of varying single images. For Marlene Dumas, as a painter interested in the human condition, the skull motif is fundamental. Hung as a frieze, the work invites viewers to approach the skulls individually, to observe and study them in their singularity and to recognise, eventually, the universal condition that affects every person existentially.