Marlene Dumas


‘I’m not moved’, he said. ‘It’s too static’.

It’s so sad, I said. As if no one ever entered here. As if no one ever returned from there. As if it has never been used, as if all colour has gone from the inside, has been drained. This is not the origin of the world. This is the end of the world.

I’d like my paintings to be very bare.

To be as minimal as a figurative work could possibly be, without being dead. With the image forever resisting the physical limitations of its frame, its material conditions as a painted thing: the paleness of the skin with the black-nippled corners.

‘The playing at the edges gives it scale. Without the edges it would be nothing’, he said.

If a painting needs a wall to which it can object, an image needs edges to which it can belong. She brings no news. The only secret she hides, is that you don’t love me anymore. But why should I burden you with that? Maybe it’s better to look at her without trying to get to the First Cause. Cause then we’re back to square one. Is this what we call inaccessible?

There’ve been times when I invited you.
There’ve been times when I confronted you.
There’ve been times, but not this time.

Immaculate. Written for (together with The Right to be Silent and The Death of the Author) and first published in Frieze, issue 80 – A special edition for the Frieze Art Fair, 2004, p.88-89; and included in Marlene Dumas, Sweet Nothings. Notes and Texts, second edition (revised and expanded) Koenig Books London, 2014.