Mona Hatoum

Van Gogh’s Back


Not on display

Mona Hatoum born 1952
Photograph, colour, on paper
Image: 600 × 403 mm
Purchased 1996


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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