“Defiant sex suddenly mingles with mortality”

Christopher Knight’s review steps lightly describing many of the paintings in Marlene Dumas’ s show at the LA Museum of Modern Art. Does he like Dumas’s work or not? At one point he finally asserts that her seductive paint handling feels repetitive. “Dumas often paints children, for example, but she’s no Mary Cassatt — or even Alice Neel. Her babies do not burble. In ‘Reinhardt’s Daughter’ (1994), a brown-skinned child is shown upside-down, bent backward over an inexplicable form. The little girl’s two dangling arms frame her tilted oval head, its eyes and mouth softly shut. She’s either a blissfully innocent model of somnolent repose or else she’s dead. The narrow painting is 6 feet tall, so the inverted child’s body, truncated just below the waist, is larger than life. The figure is painted thinly, almost as if with a dry brush, while the space around it is thickly swept with deep, dark oil paint. Dumas’ palette is black and bruised. The surrounding pigment suggests a murky pool, an ooze into which the fragile child is disappearing. This technique is encountered throughout the show, where the human body is mostly a negative space made visible by a forbidding, even oppressive context. Dramatically stated and powerfully seductive, it can nonetheless feel repetitive.” Read more.

Marlene Dumas: Measuring Your Own Grave,” organized by Connie Bulter, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA), in association with The Museum of Modern Art, New York . Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA. Through Sept. 22. Traveling to MoMA, New York, December 14, 2008 -February 16, 2009, and The Menil Collection, Houston, -March 26 -June 21, 2009.

Related posts:
Marlene Dumas: Contented Bohemian
At Anaba Martin Bromirski keeps track of Dumas mentions and reviews in Marlene Dumas Tally Reaches Fever Pitch

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