Drawing has been a recurring and important autonomous element of Dumas’s practice throughout her career. She never makes preparatory drawings for her paintings. Using a variety of techniques she executes her drawings very rapidly in a manner that she has compared to action painting.

This room contains an array of small cartoon-like drawings from her studio that illustrate her humour, and the diversity of her subject matter and technique. From the mid-nineties onwards, Dumas has specifically pushed the possibilities of ink wash drawing by working on a larger scale than is usual for this medium. The fluidity of the ink often lends itself to depictions of the human form that are simultaneously sensuous and vulnerable.

Wall text

Drawing is closer to whispering into someone’s ear,
while painting is more like the ear itself.
It contains all that has ever entered there.
It listens more than it speaks.
It throws speech into the dark.
Painting is not speechless.
It overflows.
It is a drunken mermaid’s song.

Marlene Dumas 1993