In 1994 Marlene Dumas began Rejects, a selection of portraits previously rejected from other series of her work. The artist talks about the works in this episode of TateShots.
The collection of anonymous and well-known faces has now evolved into its own stand-alone piece which the artist herself is constantly changing and reconstructing. It is the first artwork visitors will encounter in her exhibition The Image as Burden at Tate Modern.
I really like the title Rejects because in a conceptual way if you call something a reject it’s a bit like a failure already so you can’t really fail because you’ve acknowledged that you’ve failed, so I like that play on the word reject.
It’s now 2014 and it started in 1994. The first group of rejects are really the more aggressive looking ones, like this one; you can see that it’s specifically the use of two drawings on top of one another.
While there’s not necessarily anything wrong with the one at the back, the Rejects also have got indeed, all different types of drawing.
This is Karen Greenberg. There’s another heroine of mine, Charlotte Rampling.
When my works go away and belong to other people I cannot touch them any more, they are not mine any more to change, but what was very important also is because the Rejects belong to me and they’re mine, I could change them.
For the Tate we have selected 48 of these Rejects.
When you install a show it’s always very important where you start. It was a conscious decision, a deliberate decision to start with the rejects because it is serious but it’s also playful; it is about images but it is also about the material and the medium and all the conflicts or tensions between those aspects.
Scale affects also the gesture, so these works, the scale is bigger and so also the gestures are looser and bigger. It’s a very physical act actually.
I might stop doing this because I haven’t actually been drawing on big pieces of paper like this for a long time so I thought, yes, even the rejects might have its natural end