Saturday, August 6, 2011

Broken White

"My best works are erotic displays of mental confusions (with intrusions of irrelevant information)." Marlene Dumas

Jule-die vrou
Marlene Dumas
125 x 105cm

Jule-die Vrou is a disembodied portrait painting framed in extreme close-up; only the model's eyes and lips are fully rendered attributes of seduction and sexuality. The rest of the painting is obliterated by a corpulent fleshy pink, suggestive of femininity, sin, violence and womanhood. The contrast between representation, and abstraction suggests a psychological disparity, where morality, representation, and social convention are questioned. 

Patricia Ellis writes;                                                                           
Marlene Dumas's provocative paintings of women, children, celebrities and people of colour are as psychologically disturbing as they are violently beautiful. Championing the under-represented classes, her characters occupy an unholy ground where the viewer's individual morality, ethics and adherence to ideological convention are questioned.

Marlene Dumas makes paintings with no concept of the taboo. Racism, sexuality, religion, motherhood and childhood are all presented with chilling honesty. Undermining universally held belief systems, Dumas corrupts the very way images are negotiated. Stripped of the niceties of moral consolation, Marlene Dumas's work provokes unmitigated horror. She offers no comfort to the viewer, only an unnerving complicity and confusion between victims and oppressors.

"It was my first time in a peepshow so when the girl smiled at me I said "Only looking", and she replied "That's how I got started here too".

Removing the hierarchical value system of perception, Marlene Dumas presents unsettling truths as paintings because there is no other means to communicate their primal essence. Working from her own photos and pictures found in magazine and film archives, her canvases act as sociological studies. Subjects, already at one remove, are further physically and dispassionately distanced by her instinctive and disquieting painting style.

Often described as an 'intellectual expressionist', Marlene Dumas blurs the boundaries between painting and drawing. Bold lines and shapes mix seamlessly with ephemeral washes and thick gestural brushwork. By simplifying and distorting her subjects, Marlene Dumas creates intimacy through alienation. Her subjects' assertive stares suggest that her paintings aren't actually about them, but the viewer's own reaction to their perverse circumstance. With deceptive casualness, Marlene Dumas exposes the monstrous capacity belied by 'civilised' human nature.

Beneath Marlene Dumas's hard-hitting social dialogue is a deep-rooted ideological equality. As one of the most profoundly feminist contemporary artists, Marlene Dumas uses painting as a means to personally navigate history. Her holistic approach to creation and subject undermines the discomfort and restriction of traditional rationale. Embracing the totality of human experience, Marlene Dumas finds an eternal beauty not in immediate pleasure, but in the timeless gap between the cherished and unspeakable.

I first discovered Dumas' work as a fan of the music of Pearl Aday, I have read that her song 'Broken White' was inspired by Dumas. I love the inspiration behind her work and find her paintings beautiful and confronting.

'Broken White' -Pearl Aday

It ain't broken 'till you scream and scold and chide it
The knife ain't stabbin' 'till you feel your hand around it
Blood and spurn
Take your turn
Buck up, don't you cry
Don't cry
Steely white
A seething sight
Make her broken white

Let's call it a war
It don't hurt no more
I fall up from the floor
Your holy ghost is a holy whore
Let's call it a war
I don't scare no more
I fall up from the floor
Your holy ghost is a holy whore

Psycho dancin' want it right in your face, you got it
Spike up your boots, it's time to fight your
Way on out, you got it
Bitch, you'll learn
Your pain is earned
Suck it up, do your time
No time
A feely fright
It just ain't right
Call her broken white

Let's call it a war
It don't hurt no more
I fall up from the floor
Your holy ghost is a holy whore
Let's call it a war
I don't scare no more
I fall up from the floor
Your holy ghost is a holy whore

Melancholy Calling

I will be turning 30 in 10 weeks. Well, in 74 days to be precise.Whether a coincidence or not, I've been reflecting on the last 10 years and how I got to where I am.

I think, in part, this reflection has come as I'm crazily aware how fast life is passing me by. I can't believe my baby is 16 months and that, in fact, she is more a little girl than a pink,chubby babe. I feel since her birth, the days and weeks have torpedoed past. I just don't know where the time has gone. I can't believe I left Australia 6 years ago! 8 years since I was strolling the halls of the Arts Department at Griffith University!

What would the 20 year old me think about the 30 year old me? Am I where I 'wanted' to be? Have my goals and desires changed? 

When I was 20 I was in my second year of University. I was in a dead end and very unhealthy relationship (one that I stayed in, stupidly, another 4 years.) I was living with friends on the Gold Coast; dreaming of travel, imagining an 'escape,' not appreciating the opportunities that lay ahead (opportunities available purely because my 'life' was truly just starting.) Hindsight is a marvellous thing.

So, looking back (as the list maker I am) what have I accomplished in that time?
I spontaneously booked a trip to Europe; 5 weeks travelling with a girlfriend. 
I graduated University. 
I listened to that internal voice that was getting increasingly more urgent! "This is not IT. Leave. Go back to London." 
I booked a one-way ticket and found my feet in a city I will always hold dear to my heart, a city I'll always feel at home in. 
I took *somewhat* steps to improve my health and self-esteem, in short I lost 20kgs. 
I ended THAT relationship, 5 years late, but I did it. 
I met the man of my dreams- a cliché but the truth. 
I married the man of my dreams and started a family, a love I could never fathom. 

... and being that I am a glass half empty kinda gal, what have I not accomplished I think I should have?
I do not, nor am even close to, owning a home. This is probably the one I am finding most difficult to accept, I want the best for Avalon, I wish for her what I had as a child.
We have not 'put down roots'-- not by house, area or country.
My career is not where I hoped it would be. In fact, let's me real. I have a job, not a career.
I have not been to Nepal. My Mother and I had made a pact that we would travel to Nepal for my 30th birthday. Nope.
I have put on 7kgs to that 20kgs I had worked so hard to loose and thus, affirming, that some demons are still alive and well.

So, where do I find myself? My family is so important to me and just to have Grant and Avalon in my life is so fulfilling. Avalon is my greatest accomplishment, followed by being in a respectful and loving partnership. I am proud of my tertiary education and travel and GRATEFUL that I had the opportunities I had. This is a self indulgent reflection. I realise I am lucky to have the things I have.

Life cannot be planned to a T. I get that. I have my goals and dreams for the next 10 years and will do all I can to achieve those. All in all, I feel pretty darn blessed.

‎"Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; but remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for." -Epicurus-