Text by Marlene van Niekerk
A blue-black topless woman stakes her claim on the Upper East Side. A stripper displays her behind next to six brides posing in a row. A dead man with a bound jaw asks the viewer to confront three blindfolded prisoners and three mysteriously somber children. The paintings and drawings collected here demonstrate Marlene Dumas's enduring fascination with image-making as a force for objectification, and simultaneously express her desire to pry the act of figurative painting loose from that history. Her lushly painted work recalls the immediacy of Expressionism in its gestures, the critical distance of Conceptual art in its idea-driven intensity, and the pleasures of eroticism in both its subjects and its lavishly applied paint. The complexity of Dumas's conceptual preoccupations is belied by her formal mastery--both command the viewer's attention, and the chemistry between them makes her one of our most important living figurative painters.