Marlene Dumas

Dead Artists

In Europe I eventually discovered the dead artists.
Those who were more alive than most of the living ones, like Goya, Holbein, Manet, Degas, and Courbet. Most important I could see them in the flesh. It became clear that (for example) my dislike for Impressionism was based largely on ignorance and prejudice. What I thought (was told, read) was not what I saw.
I do not have artists or painters as heroes. I like and use bits and pieces of many, many artists and non-artists. I cannot exist without others. They are my audience, my burden, my inspiration, my subject matter and object matter.

Painting is not in a crisis
Paintings are slow by nature. Someone has to make a painting. It is what it is, through its process of being made. Artistic thinking became psychopathic when it became obsessed with ‘the New’. The art world became ashamed of painting, in a world where speed is power, paintings may look like an area for weak boys to play hide and seek, but as the photographic is losing its shine and becoming yesterdays (news) papers, yesterdays paintings are smiling.

Drawing is closer
Drawing is closer to whispering into someone’s ear, while painting is more like the ear itself. It contains all that has ever entered there. It listens more than it speaks. It throws speech into the dark. Painting is not speechless.
It overflows. It is a drunken mermaid’s song.

Dead Artists. Originally published in Journal zur Ausstellung, Der Zerbrochenen Spiegel, Positionen zur Malerei (cat.), Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna, 1993, p.10; and included in Marlene Dumas, Sweet Nothings. Notes and Texts, first edition Galerie Paul Andriesse and De Balie Publishers Amsterdam, 1998; and second edition (revised and expanded) Koenig Books London, 2014.