The Origin of the Species

A child is born on a certain day
but the birth of an artwork
is impossible to calculate
and it’s origin is impossible to find.

The beginning (or the end)
of a story is suggested
but no tales are told.
Accidents happen.

The relationships between the
artworks show ‘missing links’
which are most severe between
closely allied works and varieties.

My memory disfigures my feeling.
My imagination disfigures
my memory.
My sources vary.

I paint after the photo –
the distorted afterglow
of chemical reproduction,
filtered through my clumsy attempts
towards natural perception,
and the preservation
of a dubious habit.


The Origin of the Species. Originally published in Marlene Dumas: The Origin of the Species (cat.), Staatsgalerie Moderner Kunst, Bayerische StaatsgemĂ€ldesammlungen, Munich, 1990 [The cat. contains a printing error in the third part of the text. For ‘The relationships between the artworks show ‘missing links’ which are not severe (…)’ should be ‘which are most severe’, as above.]; 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.