If I could give only one advice to anyone it would be to meet new people. Since I discovered the search option of LinkedIn I had encounters with some remarkable and talented people as well as many cups of coffee. Last week I met up with a curator at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam (museum of contemporary art). And while I am there, I also meet with Marlene Dumas. Through her exhibition, that is!
For those who are not familiar with her, South African Marlene Dumas is one of the main contemporary painters around. She is easily identified with her wild hairdo, a thing we share if I wouldn’t tame mine. If you see her in the introduction film you discover she has a unique mind. She sees connections between topics you and I would never see.It must have something to do with her engagement with many topics in the news that tie it all together. It also leads her to easily change topics from South African politics to Monica Lewinsky and anything else that comes up. Fascinating.
Even though Marlene’s ideas are all over the place, the paintings in her long career show recurring themes. Most of it is not very cheerful; death, pain, oppression. And many of the large-sized paintings look temporary and vulnerable making them even more confronting. You cannot easily ignore the effects of them, which is why I did not enjoy them very much. It takes a selected range of moods to appreciate them, and I was not having one of them that day. Feeling too euphoric I was not planning on giving in to gloominess.
Stepping back from the paintings themselves I have to say the exhibition is well curated. There is a clear division in rooms, each showing paintings with shared topics. There is no distraction in the display. It is clean and light so that all the attention is drawn to the canvases. It feel airy and spacious, just like the paintings themselves… Well, enough said; I think you should see it for yourself! Despite having the wrong mood, I did pick up new ideas and ways of looking from the exhibition. Any art visit is a bonus, always.