n°157/ To the Bone

February 2015

by Nathalie Azoulai

Marlene Dumas isn't afraid to paint very famous people such as Amy Winehouse, Osama bin Laden or Naomi Campbell because she's a great painter whose skills and talent manage to take over ordinary iconography.  Let's take her 2012 Mamma Roma, a big close up of Anna Magnani starring Pasolini's 1962 Mamma Roma. Striking, almost terrifying. because of the skin showing the canvas, the nose showing the bones while the mouth seems to shout along some endless desperate Munch-like cry, "the sense of tragedy" as Pasolini put it. Playing a redeeming prostitute eager to save her son  from despair and misery, Mamma Roma will fail and embody some modern pieta unable to save her beloved son from dark fate. And guess what, sometimes painting gets even stronger that moviemaking, silence louder than sound. This is Dumas, showing her amazing work at the Tate Modern of London till May, 10.

 Marlene Dumas