This room shows works that are inspired by snapshots of Dumas’s daughter Helena (born 1989). In The Painter 1994, an infant girl stares out at the viewer with an arresting gaze, hands strikingly coloured. Dumas removes all reference to the original source photograph, in which her child stands in a garden covered in paint, to create a figure alien to its surroundings and to the viewer. The lack of extensive modelling on the body, with the legs disappearing into the pale white of the ground, makes the figure appear almost like an apparition.

Historically painting was seen as
female but, the males were the
painters, and the females the models.
Now the female (the daughter) takes
the main role. She paints herself.
The model becomes the artist.
She creates herself.
She is not there to please you.
She pleases herself.
The question is not ‘Who is she,’
but ‘Who are you?’

Marlene Dumas

The Painter was first exhibited in Dumas’s first solo exhibition in America, Not From Here, and hung alongside Cupid and Reinhardt’s Daughter. Dumas described the figures in this series, as ‘imagined beings, closer to the world of ghosts and angels, daydreams and nightmares than to real people in the streets’.

Wall text

Painting as a practice of pleasure.
And the painting as an object of pleasure.
Her hands dipped into paint, she does not need
a brush – she uses her hands to paint.
A purely physical pleasure of touch and gesture.
The body pursues its own ideas. 

Historically painting was seen as female but, the
males were the painters, and the females the models.
Now the female (the daughter) takes the main role.
She paints herself. 

The model becomes the artist. She creates herself.
She is not there to please you. She pleases herself.
The question is not ‘Who is she,’ but ‘Who are you?’

Marlene Dumas The Artist as a Painter 2007