The Intuition of Danger

The artwork itself is not dangerous.
Murderous thoughts are not the same
as actually committing the murder.
I paint because I am scared.

Give me – artworks that vibrate
with a sense of their own futility.
Those committed by bloodhounds.
Smelling the stains even
in the whitest wash,
in the brightest rain!

Being aware of one’s own bad breath,
the poisonous under-arm odours.
Delivering – thrilling reports on the
intoxication of fear and the acid
attraction of things you haven’t said.

So – to quote the lady out of context –
‘Because the danger remains the same
and the danger never seems to go away’
I’ll leave you in mid-air.
Without saying goodbye.


The Intuition of Danger was originally published in Innovation und Tradition | Vernieuwing en traditie (cat.), Badischer Kunstverein Karlsruhe, 1986, p.79; it is 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.