Marlene Dumas


1. The background of my drawings and their importance in regard to previous work.
When I was 12 years old, I thought, the only Big problem in life was Death.

Then I discovered Racism.
In 1991–1992 I made a group of 112 drawings called Black Drawings. Among other things, it was an attempt to exhibit my own unease, fear and admiration for the individuals grouped together under the term called ‘Black’. In artistic terms (the suddenly very popular) area of ‘the other’ comes to mind. We (?) have to come to terms with ‘them’(?).

Then I turned 21 years old and discovered Sexism.
Obtaining the anti-conception pill was the first act I did that celebrated my entree into adulthood. The first signature I put without asking my mother’s permission or approval. (I knew she would not approve.) Without the discovery of the pill, I would probably not even be an artist today.

In 1992–1993 I made this group of many drawings, called Female. These faces have no background. They are placeless. We do not know, they do not show, where they came from and where they are going. Like illegal aliens, they know, that those who attract too much attention play and could pay with their lives. And when their time runs out, these watery images will wash away like ‘tears in the rain’. [1]

2. The relation to the 21st Century, our future.
‘We’ already went to ‘them’. Now ‘they’ are coming to ‘us’.

3. Artistic research, methods, cosmology.
The best thing Picasso (the replica of God) said: ‘I don’t search, I find’, that’s what God said when He placed His cross on the earth and founded the world. That’s what I say when I see newspapers and images made by others.

[1] Rutger Hauer in the movie Blade Runner

Female. Originally published in The 21st Century: Into the Future with Paracelsus / Das 21. Jahrhundert: Mit Paracelsus in die Zukunft (cat.), Kunsthalle Basel, 1993, p.124; 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.