"I have always said that I wish to paint love stories, and here Munch did just that, many years before me." —Marlene Dumas
A major exhibition featuring paintings and works on paper by Marlene Dumas and Edvard Munch (1863–1944) is currently on view at the Munch Museum in Oslo. Moonrise: Marlene Dumas & Edvard Munch is the first curatorial project for Dumas, who examined more than one hundred works in the museum’s collection to make her selection. She has also included paintings and drawings by her contemporary René Daniëls, who, as she explained, "taught me how to see Munch."
Two series form the core of this exhibition that encompasses themes of innocence, sexuality, metamorphosis, and death: Munch’s Alpha and Omega prints from 1908, and Dumas’s Venus and Adonis drawings (2015-2016). Over the course of twenty-two black-and-white lithographs, Alpha and Omega tells the tragic story of a fantasy battle of the sexes between the first humans on an island and their encounters with its animals and flora. (The title of the exhibition nods to an early, Eden-like scene in which the couple sit watching the moon rise over the water.) Dumas first saw these works in 1981 on a visit to the museum and was drawn to Munch’s depiction of humankind and nature, subjects she examines in her series of thirty-three watercolors based on Shakespeare’s narrative poem Venus and Adonis (1593). Tender and erotic with hints of violence, Dumas’s drawings depict the story of Venus, the goddess of love, and her tragic passion for the handsome youth Adonis. These singularly expressive ink wash drawings were first on view in Myths & Mortals, the artist’s recent solo exhibition at David Zwirner New York.
During the course of the exhibition, Cinematek in Oslo will be hosting a series of related films, also curated by Dumas. She will speak at Cinematek about the influence of film on her work on October 21.
Cover Image: Marlene Dumas, Venus with the Body of Adonis, 2015–2016 (detail). © Marlene Dumas