Black Drawings in the collection of De Pont museum, undoubtedly stems from Marlene Dumas’ youth in South Africa and attests to an aversion and resistance to the uniform, clichéd image of ‘the black’.
Marlene Dumas

Marlene Dumas (Cape Town, 1953) is a South African born artist and painter who lives and works in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. She is considered one of the most significant and influential painters working today.

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The piece of slate that has been attached at the lower left of the work could stand for this clichéd image: a thing that is only black, without any individual characteristics.

Another striking element is the drawing at the upper right, possibly a self-portrait of the artist. Here we see a young and evidently white girl, her hair combed into two smooth ponytails. She is holding her hand in front of her face in a gesture of defense or shame.

Dumas does not have the illusion that one can resolve wrongs with art, but it is typical of her to let her voice be heard. To bring up what isn’t right and to find out why it isn’t right is Dumas’ intention.

Video credits

  • Camera: Luuk Huijsmans 
  • Edit: Naomi van Dijck 
  • Special thanks to our peer-to-peer guides Luuk Huijsmans and Maartje Welvaarts
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