“From personal experience, the practice of painting is driven by an obstinate pursuit of the elusive. It has to do with not knowing and not quite seeing what one is doing. While painting, I do not know what the image is supposed to look like or what it is supposed to mean. My task is to discover and answer these questions within the span of one canvas. My paintings start with a question, with a problem and the surface of the canvas resembles an excavation site to me; a location upon which I keep on digging and digging until I have brought back to the surface an image that I was looking for, but I didn’t know what it would look like.” (Dumoulin on his work)
The German poet Heinrich von Kleist once argued that thought does not precede speech but rather emerges in conjunction with the act of speaking. Dumoulin’s painting practice unfolds similarly; each painting is a thought that reveals its complexity through the sensual connection between colors, objects, motifs, and formats. This complexity does not disclose itself via any form of mastery, but rather from cluelessness — from not knowing why one chooses a subject over another and how to paint that specific subject. In the process of figuring out a painting — of understanding how to represent something as simple as a tree, a person, a landscape — Dumoulin gets a glimpse into the utter strangeness and instability of our experience of the world.