Though quite different in approach, Dumas’ and Muñoz’s practice shows deep concerns for the human body, our relationship to it and its status as a recurring motif across the entire history of art.
Juan Muñoz (1953 -2001) came to international prominence in the mid 1980s with sculptural installations that placed the figure in architectural environments. He has always been a storyteller and his carefully staged configurations hint at ambiguous scenarios. Drawing is central to Muñoz’s practice and this exhibition presents a series of works on paper from 1995 depicting a particular part of the human anatomy: the mouth. This orifice is particularly significant in much of the artist’s work primarily for its role in the act of communication. Sound, or rather the lack of it, has been another continual feature in Muñoz’s work; from silent laughter to ventriloquists, prompters and seemingly whispered conversations, it becomes present by its very absence.
For this exhibition Marlene Dumas has selected a number of her works on paper in response to the historical pieces by Muñoz: surprising and intimate they engage in a conversation across time and media. The image of the body in Dumas’ work is often inspired by such diverse sources as newspaper and magazine cuttings, personal memorabilia, historical paintings, and Polaroid photographs. The majority of her works may be categorised as 'portraits', but they are not portraits in the traditional sense. Instead of depicting an actual person, they use form and colour to represent an emotion or a state of mind. Themes central to Dumas' work include race and sexuality, guilt and innocence and the space between violence and tenderness.
Marlene Dumas was born in Capetown, South Africa in 1953. Her solo exhibition The Image as Burden will be on show at Tate Modern from 5 February until 10 May and will travel to Fondation Beyeler, Basel 30 May – 13 September. Recent solo exhibitions include Sorte Fondazione Stelline, Milan (2012), Against the Wall (Contra o Muro), Fundaçao Serralves, Porto (2010), Measuring your Own Grave, a touring exhibition at Museum of Contemporary Art, LA; MoMA, New York; Menil Collection, Houston (2008 / 09).
Juan Muñoz was born in Madrid in 1953 and died in Madrid in 2001. Hangar Bicocca, Milan, will stage a major exhibition of Muñoz’s work from 9 April – 23 August 2015. Other solo exhibitions include; Juan Muñoz. A Retrospective (2008) Tate Modern, travelled to Guggenheim, Bilbao, Fundação Serralves – Museu de Arte Contemporanea, Porto; and Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid (2009). The Unilever series: Juan Muñoz: Double Bind, Tate Modern (2001-2002).