World-famous contemporary artist interprets Edvard Munch in Oslo

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New exhibition in Oslo

Marlene Dumas is one of the most influential painters in contemporary art. She confronts and seduces us with her expressive figurative motifs. Taking on the role of curator for the first time, she presents us with Edvard Munch’s art in dialogue with her own works at the Munch Museum in Oslo.  The world-famous contemporary artist interprets Edvard Munch.

Born in Cape Town, South Africa, in 1953, Marlene Dumas moved to Amsterdam in 1976, where she has since lived and worked.  In this autumn’s exhibition at the Munch Museum, she shows us how she perceives Edvard Munch’s artwork in relation to her own. She has been fascinated by Munch’s body of work for a long time. In 1981, she visited the Munch Museum and saw his series of lithographs called Alpha and Omega (1908), which opened her eyes to their similarities.

World-famous contemporary artist interprets Edvard Munch in Oslo
Narlene Dunmas at Tate Modern, London

Related: The Edvard Munch Museum in Oslo on the Move

World-famous contemporary artist interprets Edvard Munch in Oslo
“I have always said that I wish to paint love stories, and here Munch did just that, many years before me”, she says. According to her, Munch painted modern love stories – not just between men and women, but also between mankind and nature. Encompassing a diverse array of scales, styles, and subjects, Dumas’s new works respond more than ever to the uncertainty and sensuality of the painting process itself. Allowing the structure of the canvases and the materiality of the paint greater freedom to inform the development of her compositions, the artist has likened the creation of these works to the act of falling in love: an unpredictable and open-ended process that is as filled with awkwardness and anxiety as it is with bliss and discovery.

World-famous contemporary artist interprets Edvard Munch in Oslo
Marlene Dumas, “Stop in the name of love”

Marlene Dumas is famous for her confrontational and expressive paintings and has held separate exhibitions in major museums like MoMA in New York and Tate Modern in London. When she reaches the Munch Museum with the Moonrise exhibition. Marlene Dumas & Edvard Munch, she shows her own works in dialogue with a number of Munch’s works, carefully chosen by herself.

Related: The Universality of Loneliness at the Edvard Munch Museum in Oslo

World-famous contemporary artist interprets Edvard Munch in Oslo
Munch’s Alpha and Omega and a new series by Dumas, Venus and Adonis, sets the tone for the exhibition, encompassing themes such as innocence, sexuality, loneliness, anxiety and death. Its title is borrowed from Moonrise, one of the lithographs in the series, in which Alpha and Omega are turned towards the ocean, their glances fixed on the golden glow of the column created by the moon’s reflection. Dumas associates the moonrise with something feminine and magical, yet connected to the darkness of the night. She writes the following about Edvard Munch: “Yes, he understands the night with its shadows. Yet his works are bright with light”. The atmosphere of the exhibition is colored by the moonlight.

World-famous contemporary artist interprets Edvard Munch in Oslo
Marlene Dumas confronts and seduces us with her expressive figurative motifs

One of the most influential painters in contemporary art
In 2017, Dumas presented an altarpiece made in collaboration with Jan Andriesse and Bert Boogaard as a permanent installation at the Annenkirche (St. Anne’s Church) in Dresden. Also opening in Dresden in October of that year, the Albertinum and Kupferstich-Kabinett, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden hosted concurrent solo exhibitions. And now, the artist has curated an exhibition of her work alongside that of Edvard Munch and René Daniëls at the Munch Museum, Oslo, entitled Moonrise.

In Moonrise, Dumas wants to show us Munch’s artwork through her own eyes, and she compiles her own works with works by Munch and her Dutch artist colleague René Daniëls. Dumas tells Daniëls to teach her to see Munch as a modern artist, and precisely for that reason she has chosen works that give the audience the opportunity to see Munch the way she as a painter experiences him. Dumas puts spotlight on the picturesque aspects of Munch, which we may not have noticed before.

World-famous contemporary artist interprets Edvard Munch in Oslo
Marlene Dumas, “Venus with the body of Adonis”

Related: Edvard Munch Through the Eyes of Andy Warhol

Stories exploring themes
Text is an important part of both Munch and Dumas’ oeuvre. They have written extensively about art, and are preoccupied with stories exploring themes of inner emotional tension, such as love and death. Munch and Dumas share a poetic and distinctive linguistic style, blurring the lines between prose and poetry. According to Dumas, “words and pictures are disparate, but equally important and just as ambiguous”.

World-famous contemporary artist interprets Edvard Munch in Oslo
Marlene Dumas, “Omega’s Eyes”

Films connected to the exhibition
A series of films connected to the exhibition will be screened at Cinemateket in Oslo this autumn. Among the films Marlene Dumas has selected, are Carl Dreyer’s Ordet (The Word), Nagisa Oshima’s Realm of the Senses and Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. On 21 October, Dumas will talk about the relevance of film to her own artistry.

The exhibition runs through 13 January 2019

World-famous contemporary artist interprets Edvard Munch in Oslo, written by Tor Kjolberg

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