London's Tate Modern Celebrates Marlene Dumas

February 7, 2015 10:17 PM

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Can genius be hit and miss? Can an artist capture the essence of the human spirit in one image and produce a bad painting in the next? This seems to be the crux of the Marion Dumas retrospective at the Tate Modern. Her rows of watercolour portraits are true evocations of our inner selves -- faces sag and distort to echo the disparities of experience inside each and every individual. They are unattractively alluring, a gallery of "joli-laids" revealed in bold strokes and washes, mirrors of internal conflicts which end up as things of beauty.

But a constant painting off photographic images can sometimes produce a cliché which even the artist herself seems to get bored with. Some of her larger pieces appear to be abandoned in mid-creation, as if once the intensity of the initial subject of interest wears off the rest of the painting is di...

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