Oil on canvas
175 x 87 cm
Destino and Stellina—as well as Angels in Uniform—are two paintings created for the exhibition that the artist Marlene Dumas presented at the Fondazione Stelline in Milan in 2012. These two paintings are presented for the first time by the Pinault Collection for the inaugural exhibition at the Bourse de Commerce, entitled "Ouverture".
The Palazzo delle Stelline, which now houses the eponymous foundation, takes its name from the order of Benedictine nuns of Santa Maria della Stella, a religious congregation that lived here for over three centuries. The convent was later transformed into a hospital and then into a girls' orphanage. The residents were in turn nicknamed the “Stelline” (little stars). During the preparation of her exhibition in Milan, Marlene Dumas combed through the archives of the former orphanage and discovered photographs of these orphan girls in uniform. An encounter that overwhelmed her to the point of making them the subject of new paintings.
For these portraits, the artist has chosen a narrow, vertical format, focusing on her subject, which underlines the orphan girls' solitude. The pale faces, as if powdered with pink, similar to porcelain masks, seem to be frozen in expressions of their circumstances, in a way “putting on a good face”; ghostly, fragile presences, in contrast with the austerity of the dark and sinister uniforms. These paintings conjure up the phrase sung in Pier Paolo Pasolini's The Gospel According to St. Matthew, whose fundamental importance for Marlene Dumas is well known: “Sometimes I feel like a motherless child.”