new-york

Marlene Dumas

David Zwirner | 525 & 533 West 19th Street

There is an air of mournful intimacy to Marlene Dumas’s paintings, a sort of muted pathos. The thinly painted figures in this recent exhibition, “Against the Wall,” have a miragelike appearance appropriate to the emotional desert in which they exist. Many of the images are derived from photographs documenting the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Dumas’s handling serves to subjectify the photographically objectified figures, to make the prosaic images quasi-poetic, or at least to aestheticize them. In this regard, the presence of a photograph at the emotional and almost literal center of The Mother, 2009, is noteworthy. (The image depicts an isolated Palestinian woman contemplating a photograph of her dead son while squatting on the edge of a grave.) Dumas implies that photography and painting, at odds in modernity—photography supposedly being more craft than art, and unable to

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