Marlene Dumas

The Blonde, the Brunette and the Black Woman

I don’t want to sound like Michael Jackson saying
‘It don’t matter if you’re black or white’,
because that is, like the issues concerning male and
female, unfortunately still painfully burning bright!
This is a sensitive area for almost everybody.
Yet it is not political correctness that inspired these
images, but the loss of integrity and shifts of identity
that affects everything and most of us, everywhere.

These paintings consciously allude to the politics of color
and the color of paintings. They are even a bit funny.
Nothing wrong with
black humour.

I have never experienced paintings as windows or mirrors.
It is impossible to tell what is up and what is down,
who is above and who below. We just don’t know.

Is she humiliating him or is he oppressing her?
Is it a prescriptive or a descriptive position?
The blonde, the brunette and the black woman all share
the same snapshot of myself as source material, although
this does not imply self-portraiture. (When the Barbie doll
went into production they made three blondes for every one
brunette). The factual information that this type of paintings
have to offer is almost non-existent.

It has been said that you can’t judge a book by its cover
and you can’t judge a woman by her lover. Yet it seems,
you have to judge a painting by its cover and especially
by its lovers.

The Blonde, the Brunette and the Black Woman. Originally published in Der zerbrochene Spiegel: Positionen zur Malerei (cat.), Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna, 1993: p.154-155; and included in Marlene Dumas, Sweet Nothings. Notes and Texts, first edition Galerie Paul Andriesse and De Balie Publishers Amsterdam, 1998; and second edition (revised and expanded) Koenig Books London, 2014.