Death by Association


oil on canvas

70 x 80 cm

At the turn of the century, Dumas moved towards representations of death, especially in the case of young people being sacrificed in wars, as martyrs, suspects, look-alikes or friendly-fire casualties.

Death by Association was first shown in the Time and Again exhibition in Antwerp in 2002 together with paintings like Dead Girl (2002) and Death through Mistaken Identity (2002), works whose subjects are young Palestinians who died in violent circumstances. One might call them paintings of grief, seen with a maternal gaze., as if a mother were looking at her lifeless child, as if Dumas executed these paintings like prayers.

In Death by Association, relatives (seen in the newspaper photograph on which Dumas based the painting, but not in the painting itself) read to the deceased from the Koran. Dumas said that seeing the holy Islamic book on the dead boy’s chest reminded her of paintings in the Academia in Venice, where she saw, for the first time, red and blue angels together and skeletons reading books in the hereafter.