Marlene Dumas: Measuring Your Own Grave

Marlene Dumas. The Alien and The Shrimp. 1998

Marlene Dumas. The Alien and The Shrimp. 1998

Watercolor on paper, each 49 3/16 x 27 9/16 " (125 x 70 cm). Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt am Main. © 2008 Marlene Dumas

Artist, Marlene Dumas: Two of my favorite watercolors are The Alien and The Shrimp and what I like about them is there you can clearly see is that everything isn't thought out beforehand, and that it isn't an illustration of a picture, but that I do follow the process of the hand and of the material.

Because in both these cases, I don't draw the lines. I work on the floor, and I throw the ink, which is a mixture of acrylic and water and Indian ink, on to the paper, and I move the paper so that the form is actually the movement of the ink. And then the illusionistic aspects, like eyes or mouth, they are done with a brush, while it is still wet.

And so the process, it's a bit like calligraphy, you have to move fast and so the whole drawing has got a lot to do with time. If you want to imitate your own drawing, it will be very dead, because you can not imitate the speed of your gestures. And that is the surprising aspect.

Also the scale the monumentality of the drawings was for me very important. It was quite a challenge to see if I could also play with the material and follow my hand and the material on a bigger scale.

With these drawings, the title definitely comes after the execution. It is about the pleasure of the human body making something.

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