Marlene Dumas: Measuring Your Own Grave

Marlene Dumas. Fingers. 1999

Marlene Dumas. Fingers. 1999

Oil on canvas, 15 3/4 x 19 11/16" (40 x 50 cm). Collection Jan Andriesse. © 2008 Marlene Dumas

CONNIE BUTLER: Fingers, is one of many paintings by Dumas that draw on pornographic source images.

MARLENE DUMAS: They are very suggestive paintings. If you see the source material that I used to paint them from, then you will see a much more, realistic, whole different tone that is really the explicitness of pornographic photography.

But when you look at these paintings, at the first glance you think maybe that oh, my goodness, do we want all this explicitness? But actually, it is more suggestion. If you would zoom in on certain aspects of detail, you would not even know what it was.

One thing I would also like to say about these more erotic works is that I’ve always asked myself, how do you distinguish between love and lust? Because you actually use the same poses. That's why I'm interested in pornographic images where you can see the poses that people go into because they want to seduce one another. How would you know it’s not a painting about someone’s love affair?

Why do I use source materials from porno books as models for my figures if it’s not the pornographic that I’m after? Because I can’t see myself when I do the things I do. I don’t know how I look when I look at you.

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