News — 24 Apr 2022

Donation for Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam: portrait of Hafid Bouazza by Marlene Dumas Stedelijk also receives 15 Dumas drawings on long-term loan

Marlene Dumas, Hafid Bouazza, 2020, oil on canvas, 50 x 40 cm, collection Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, donation of the artist and Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp
Marlene Dumas, Hafid Bouazza, 2020, oil on canvas, 50 x 40 cm, collection Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, donation of the artist and Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp

The Stedelijk is the lucky recipient of a donation of an extraordinary artwork by Marlene Dumas: the portrait she painted in 2020 of the writer Hafid Bouazza. The artist, together with her gallery Zeno X, donated it to the Stedelijk in memory of the writer, who passed away a year ago, on April 29, 2021. Marlene Dumas and Hafid Bouazza worked together in 2015-2016, when Bouazza translated William Shakespeare’s narrative poem Venus and Adonis into Dutch and invited Dumas to make illustrations. The Hartwig Art Foundation purchased part of this sequence of drawings and donated it to the Dutch State, which in turn is lending it to the Stedelijk Museum on long-term loan at the request of the artist and the Foundation. BOUAZZA AND DUMAS Hafid Bouazza came to the Netherlands from Morocco at the age of seven, where, after studying Arabic language and literature, he became a prominent writer, translator and essayist, freethinker and Islam critic. His writing has been described as self-assured, exuberant and lyrical. In 1996, he received the E. du Perron Prize for his debut Abdullah’s Feet; his novel Paravion was awarded the Gouden Uil and was nominated for the AKO Literature Prize. Marlene Dumas came to the Netherlands from South Africa after obtaining her BA in Fine Art in 1976 and continued her studies at Ateliers ‘63. She is considered one of the most significant and influential painters working today; her work reflects on new possible meanings that painting can still have in an era dominated by visual culture. Dumas’ vigorous, emotionally charged paintings and drawings address existentialist themes and often reference art-historical antecedents and salient political issues. In 2012 she was awarded the Johannes Vermeer Award, the Dutch state prize for the arts. Dumas and Bouazza became friends, and after collaborating on the Shakespeare translation they worked together until Bouazza’s death on the translation and illustration of the prose poems Le Spleen de Paris by Charles Baudelaire. This book will be published by Querido at the end of May under the title Parijse walging.

Marlene Dumas, from the series Venus & Adonis II, 2015-16, from left to right: Adonis frowns, The embrace, Adonis blushes, Venus praises the pleasures of love. Washed ink and metallic acrylic on paper, donation Hartwig Art Foundation to Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed, long-term loan Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam

VENUS AND ADONIS Written in 1593, Shakespeare’s narrative poem Venus and Adonis is a timeless tale of love, youth and rejection. Venus, the Roman goddess of love, becomes infatuated with the young mortal Adonis and attempts to seduce him. Adonis, who would rather go hunting, rejects her advances; despite divine protection, he dies during the hunt the following day, leaving Venus to mourn his death. The suite of drawings Marlene Dumas created for the poem highlight iconic moments in the tale, including Venus crouched over the dying Adonis, conjuring a purple flower from his blood. In his translation of the Shakespeare poem, Bouazza sought to create a Dutch rendition that could be enjoyed by the contemporary Dutch reader. Dumas’ expressive ink washes infuse the tale of passionate yet violence-tinted poem with a heady, raw intensity. The long-term loan to the Stedelijk concerns the fifteen-part series Venus & Adonis II. Venus & Adonis I, consisting of eighteen drawings, is located in the Glenstone Museum in Potomac, Maryland, United States. Marlene Dumas: “The painted portrait of Hafid Bouazza arose through my collaboration with him on Le Spleen de Paris, a collection of short prose poems by Baudelaire. During the Venus & Adonis drawings (2015-16), my drawings of Adonis were already partly formed by images of Hafid when he was younger. In this painted, somewhat wistful portrait, Hafid is older, more restrained and melancholic. I am very grateful to him as a source of inspiration for works that would otherwise never have come to life in recent years without him. He loved Amsterdam so much, was so much a part of it, and was such an important writer and person, that I felt his image belonged in the Stedelijk Museum. He would have said something funny about my tribute, had he heard it now.” Rein Wolfs, director Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam: “We are touched by Marlene’s generosity - it expresses the depth of her friendship with Hafid Bouazza, and with the Stedelijk. We are delighted with this donation and loan. The Stedelijk has been following Marlene Dumas since she came to the Netherlands; we first exhibited her work in 1978, and now have nine paintings and over thirty prints and drawings in the collection, an important body of work. Together with the painted portrait, the fifteen drawings represent a very valuable addition to the museum’s holdings. Moreover, the theme of seduction and rejection ties in well with other works in the collection, including the two monumental ‘Magdalena’ paintings. We immediately lent the portrait of Hafid Bouazza and the drawings for the large Marlene Dumas retrospective in Palazzo Grassi in Venice where they will be on view for the rest of the year. We look forward to showing these works at the Stedelijk next year as part of our new collection presentation 'Tomorrow Is a Different Day'.”