During her studies at the University of Cape Town Dumas began to explore and struggle with the limits of representation by experimenting with portraiture, while also placing washes on the pages of fashion or cheap sensation magazines to deliberately destroy the figurative images.

With her move to Amsterdam in 1976 to study at Ateliers ’63, Dumas was able to see for real the art she had long read about. Yet it was the wide variety of commercial media that was to be the enduring influence. During this period she concentrated on large works on paper, with elements of collage. In 1979 she studied psychology for a year, and although she decided to focus on art-making, drawings such as Love Hasn’t Got Anything to Do with It 1977 and Tenderness and the Third Person 1981 are representative of her investment in human subject matter. These works, created during moments of emotional distress, have a direct physical and performative aspect. Dumas used not only her hand but her entire body to make marks, combining these with images that were torn and pinned to the surface recalling the aesthetic of the punk movement.

Wall Text

My fatherland is South Africa
my mothertongue is Afrikaans
my surname is French;
I don’t speak French.
My mother always wanted me to go to Paris
she thought Art was French,
because of Picasso.
I thought Art was American,
because of Artforum.
I thought Mondrian was American too,
and that Belgium was a part of Holland.
I live in Amsterdam
and have a Dutch passport.
Sometimes I think I’m not a real artist,
because I’m too half-hearted;
and I never quite know where I am.

Marlene Dumas Home is where the Heart is 1994