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The Warsaw Voice » Culture » October 26, 2012
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Love it or Loathe it
October 26, 2012   
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The work of Marlene Dumas, a brilliant painter from South Africa, stirs controversy wherever it is exhibited. The Love Hasn’t Got Anything to Do With It exhibition at the Zachęta gallery in Warsaw is the first time her paintings are being shown in Poland.

Rather than a comprehensive retrospective, the exhibition delivers an overview of several themes pursued by the artist. Dumas herself helped put the exhibition together. The starting point for the exhibition is her early work, including drawings and collages from the early 1980s. Her more recent paintings are featured as well. The exhibition’s title, borrowed from one of Dumas’ earliest works, can be read as a commentary on her entire oeuvre.

The subjects featured most prominently in her works are politics, feminism, gender and commitment, iconographic and stylistic tropes from the history of art and cinema, direct and indirect quotes and images which, instead of a direct portrayal, were previously processed in photographs and movies.

Love and hate, tenderness and cruelty, innocence and guilt, sanctity and blasphemy, life and death—ambivalence seems to prevail in descriptions of Dumas’ work. Exhibited in groups, her paintings often enter a dialogue, if not a violent conflict, with each other. They vary in size, ranging from three meters to just several dozen centimeters. In many cases, the exhibition arranges characters in portraits painted by Dumas into pairs such as a mother and a son, a child and a dead body, Jesus Christ and Osama bin Laden.

Dumas’ work has always inspired strong responses that range from hostility to adoration and from open dislike to delight. Her art is a bold statement which calls on viewers to take a stance as well.

until Nov. 14
Zachęta National Gallery of Art; 3 Małachowskiego Sq.

tel. 22 827-58-54, www.zacheta.art.pl; Open Tue.-Sun. noon-8 p.m.
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