Time’s Frieze

Multi-part paintings and figures as passing time, “cubistic“ time, life time

A cubism of time or a cubistic time can be seen in the amplification of the boy holding hands with himself in Arriving, the use of raster reminding of a digital camera, taking pictures very fast one after the other. Where an artist like Sigmar Polke uses a given photograph or a printed one in a newspaper to reflect the way we are creating pictures, for instance of black guys in a “white“ city, Dalva Duarte who feels to be one of them, creates the photograph like painting herself, and uses rastering as a part of it.

Dalva Duarte working on the time´s frieze ‘Imprints of the Portraits of Fayoum’


Cubistic time can also be found in the friezes of life in Time River or Imprints of the Portraits of Fayoum, inspired by the magnificent portraits found in Egyptian graves. Transforming the triptych as a religious narrative, the frieze as a narrative for a human life becomes of great interest for symbolistic painters like Edvard Munch who used the separation line between sand and sea as connection between paintings of different size and expression. Dalva Duarte is transforming it directly into a blue line running through the parts of the multiple panel work. Living close to the caves of the Grotte Chauvet in the South of France might have evoked her fascination for very old mural paintings, and unlike the political latin american tradition of rural paintings, she is contemplating questions of time and transcendency without religious belief.

In The Imprints of the Portraits on Fayoum, Dalva Duarte refers to the mummy portraits found in Egypt, in the oasis of Fayoum (Al-Fayyum) of ancient Krokodilopolis and Arsinoe (Antinoos). During the Roman Occupation, early christians, mummified their dead in the old Egyptian tradition but added individual portraits. The mummy protraits, painted on wood panels with a specific wax technique, are well known for their individual style and abstract form. Clothes, hair-styling and attributes inform us of social contexts as well as singular persons. But what is most impressing for us, is their absolute freshness and vividness.
They inspired German painter Paula Modersohn-Becker (1876 -1907) one century ago to create surprising new forms of her portraits. But different to her, Dalva Duarte opens the portrait to show the whole body, in an almost dancing position, bringing the person back to life or at least into a sphere between life and death, fascinated by their intensive expression. They seem to look at us but from a distance. Dalva Duarte also refers to Renaissance painting and to the Jugendstil friezes of Gustav Klimt (1862-1918), as if to show the foot prints this heritage left in the history of art, especially in moments when the idea of human life, time and space were about to be newly “invented”.
But if you look at this time´s frieze closely, you will discover that Dalva Duarte also “smuggles in” women of today´s Egypt, with veils and long dresses, reminding us not only of a cultural heritage. In her meditation and “resurrection” of the dead of Fayoum she seems to honor what is called the “Arabian spring”, especially carried on by women, the contemporary struggle for freedom and an independant, dignified life.