Written by Suzanne Unrein
Published by Delicious Line
Marlene Dumas is at the top of her game at Zwirner with pictures, some of them monumental, of voyeuristic intimacies. Painted thinly in oil, they are ephemeral and disturbing.
The large-scale canvases are around 118 x 39 inches, creating confined, coffin-like spaces for full-length figures. These portraits of vulnerability throw a gut punch. In Spring (2017) a woman, her face in shadow, pours liquid down her crotch. Her black panties cut into her rust-red legs as she balances over a lime-green stage in front of a bleak background.
In Awkward (2017) a couple stands uncomfortably toe-to-toe. Red edges force them together while the white negative space between them creates compositional tension. Their blue color makes the encounter feel powerful but fleeting.
Near the back of the show are wet-on-wet ink washes illustrating a recent edition of Shakespeare's Venus & Adonis. Dumas is in her element with the tragedy and tenderness of unrequited love.