Dumas holds talk on artist-model relations
ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Dumas is known for never using live models, preferring Polaroid snapshots which include personal photographs and images from newspapers.
Figurative painter Marlene Dumas visited Istanbul to hold an artist talk at Salt Beyoğlu on June 22, where she also presented her work “Models” in a group exhibition titled Istanbul Eindhoven-SALTVanAbbe: Post 89’ between June 27 and April 6.
Dumas’ talk focused on an artist’s relationship with her models, just like the work on display does.
Dumas is known for never using live models in doing her work, preferring Polaroid snapshots which include personal photographs and images from newspapers and magazines. Dumas humorously explained that she does this “because I want to be alone in my studio. If there is someone else, I am more likely to engage in fulltime conversation with that person, rather than working.”
And she proved the strength of the likelihood at her seminar, which ran about an hour with accompaniment of well-arranged and humorous video illustrations, and which wholeheartedly showed the way the artist picks her sources and builds her works on them.
Concept of dialogue at the core of works
Artists tend to abstain from revealing such personal data to such extent. However, for Dumas it is not the case at all, since wholehearted and intimate conversation is part of her oeuvre. Even more so is the concept of “dialogue,” which constitutes the core of her works. In her exact wording, dialogue is what characterizes the nature of the relationship between an artist and her models, as the word is the first word that pops into her mind on being asked to define that relation with only one word.
“I have always been interested in the relationship between male artists and their models, who are usually female. When I started my artistic training I also did work with live models. And later on, I started to read model biographies, which triggered a deeper curiosity about how these models influenced their painters, as opposed to one general conviction in the contemporary art which is at best exemplified with this cartoon which shows an abstract painter painting something else before the reclining nude,” she said.
She said in her works the model can even be her own daughter but it is not necessarily herself, most of the time it refers to something else. In her seminar Dumas also mentioned the reactions she received for a painting which is inspired by a snapshot of her daughter.
“I received very interesting readings for this one. Some said the red paint on the hand symbolized violence within. It is not to say that my work should be interpreted in this or that particular way, but in painting this I was simply inspired by the fact that I turned back to find my daughter to have painted herself instead, while I thought she was making a painting,” Dumas said.
Representing the representation
Dumas’ oeuvre is famous for its unabashed critique of artistic representation of the female body and/or the nude. Inquires into the nature of the artistic relationship between the artist and her models is only one aspect of this full-spirited critical attitude toward the concept of representation. With her preference of images over live models, Dumas is making a statement that her art is not for representing the real as much as it is for representing the representation.
The work titled “Models” is a drawing formed of 100 portraits of models. Featuring a mixture of male and female faces with one exceptional surprise, the work invites a multi-layered interpretation.