Mona Hatoum Van Gogh’s Back 1995

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Artwork details

Artist
Mona Hatoum born 1952
Title
Van Gogh’s Back
Date 1995
Medium Photograph, colour, on paper
Dimensions Image: 600 x 403 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition Purchased 1996
Reference
P77899
Not on display

Summary

This work consists of a photograph of a man's hirsute back, the hair soaped and wetted and swirled into patterns which suggest the brushstrokes in Van Gogh's paintings. The traces of massage, registering care and perhaps passion, underline the sensual qualities in the picture.

Hatoum frequently includes photographic elements in her work. In the 1980s she produced a number of video and performance pieces. Several of her major installation and performance works involved her own hair, used to register pain and vulnerability. In exploring the relationship between private and public lives, she often focuses on the body and physical and mental suffering. In the 1990s, however, she has made a number of pieces demonstrating a lighter side to her work, finding ironical or natural humour in areas connected with more serious concerns.

Further reading:
Mona Hatoum, exhibition catalogue, Arnolfini, Bristol 1993

Terry Riggs
November 1997

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