Marlene Dumas

Suspect, Simplicity, About Heaven


Looking at images does not lead us to the truth,
it leads us into temptation.

It’s not that a medium dies.
It’s that all media have become suspect.
It’s not the artists’ subject matter that’s under fire,
but their motivation that’s on trial.
Now that we know that images can mean whatever,
whoever wants them to mean, we don’t trust anybody anymore,
especially ourselves.

The Girls’ Room
I am not a visionary
I am not a witness
I am just afraid

The Lovers’ Room
If you can’t see it, paint it

The Drawing Room
We are not God(s). Everything we draw,
We draw after (the fact).
A dead image is never as dead as a dead person.


It is very simple.
Eros is about coming
and death
about going

About Heaven

If death
Is a womb
then heaven
is a body without fear
that invites one
to enter from
whatever side
one pleases
and just for a while
time doesn’t matter.

There is one death
but there are many heavens.

Suspect, Simplicity, About Heaven. Selected fragments from Marlene Dumas Suspect, (cat.), Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa, Venice, 2003, p.35, 46, 66, 77, 79; and included in Marlene Dumas, Sweet Nothings. Notes and Texts, second edition (revised and expanded) Koenig Books London, 2014. The three rooms that are mentioned in the text Suspect refer to the different rooms in the exhibition. About Heaven and Simplicity are written on works on paper with the same title. About Heaven dates from 2001. Here – as in the catalogue – it is presented in combination with related fragments dating from 2003.