The Van Abbemuseum Collection consists of over 2800 artworks. We publish texts and images on an ongoing basis, but this record is currently in the process of being documented.
In 1937, the Van Abbemuseum received this painting from the city of Antwerp as a token of appreciation for the exhibition Hedendaagse Belgische schilder- en beeldhouwkunst (Contemporary Belgian Painting And Sculpture) at the museum. It is an early work by Victor Dolphyn (1909–1992), created during his training as an artist from 1932 to 1938 at the Hoger Instituut in Antwerp. Later, he teaches there himself, his students being among others Eindhoven-born artist Cornelis le Mair. The man and woman in this picture have robust, strong bodies, a result of the hard work they perform. The working process of the artist is also legible in rough, determined strokes and various layers of paint.
[exhibition text 2017]
There are three main figures in this painting: a man, a woman and a child. What does this mean to you? Could they be farmers? That’s very likely as there are two other characters labouring in the field in the background. Alternatively, if your answer is a family, perhaps it means that you have internalized the nuclear family model. Look closely and follow their gazes. They remind us of the cultural construct of gender roles. The figure to which we might attribute the role of patriarch is quite virile and is looking at the one playing the role of mother, while the young girl invites us to witness the scene they are acting out. What we are witnessing here is heteronormativity. However, this need not be the model you have to conform to in the 21th century. There are women who don’t want kids, same-sex couples who do want them, non-binary people who want to adopt, etc. The possibilities are endless.
%>Tags: heteronormativity, gender vs sex, performativity
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