Marcel Dzama Interview
2015 | June
Interview by Romeo Alaeff
I find that drawing is the tool I go to first for everything.
Marcel Dzama’s drawings are motivated by a simultaneous fascination and repulsion to the violent narratives of modern world history. They are equally inspired by the zeitgeist, fashions and art of the early 20th Century, specifically Dada and Surrealism. At once strange and familiar, Dzama’s drawings are violent and erotic, depraved and heroic, absurd and profound, disturbing and humorous. The scenes depict a universe in which good and evil are in harmonious collaboration, where politicians and animals mingle with militant ballerinas and amputee cowboys, and where so-called monsters are often at the mercy of innocent maidens or depraved humans. The unfolding narratives resemble dreamscapes in their logic, and like the passing of dreams, they slither back into the subconscious before they can be put to words. In this dreamworld, no one, neither the humans, nor the litany of creatures, talking trees or animal-hybrids, claim a moral high-ground. They are simply happy to co-exist in a spirited, sexually twisted, and violent symbiosis.
Marcel Dzama was born in Winnipeg, Canada in 1974. In 1996, he started the Royal Art LodgeThe Royal Art LodgeThe Royal Art Lodge was a collaborative group of artists based in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, founded in 1996 by Michael Dumontier, Marcel Dzama, Neil Farber, Drue Langlois, Jon Pylypchuk, and Adrian Williams at the University of Manitoba. Hollie Dzama and Myles Langlois also worked with the group. In the last few years, only three of the original members remained, including Michael Dumontier, Marcel Dzama, and Neil Farber. (wiki) and received his B.F.A from the University of Manitoba in 1997. He has exhibited internationally and collaborated with the likes of Beck, Arcade Fire, and Bob Dylan. He is known primarily for his drawings which have inspired several parallel bodies of work in sculpture, collage, dioramas, and film. He is the author of several books of drawings including the monograph, “Sower of Discord,” (Abrams, 2013) a comprehensive survey of his life’s work since 1995. He is represented by David Zwirner GalleryDavid Zwirner GalleryDavid Zwirner Gallery is a contemporary art gallery in New York City and London owned by David Zwirner that is active in both the primary and secondary markets. The gallery opened in 1993 on the ground floor of 43 Greene Street in SoHo. In 2002, the gallery moved to 525 West 19th Street in Chelsea. In 2006, it expanded from 10,000 square feet (930 m2) to 30,000 square feet (2,800 m2), adding spaces at 519 and 533 West 19th Street. This allows the gallery to mount three independent, full-scale exhibitions simultaneously. From 2000 to 2009, Zwirner was a partner with Iwan Wirth in Zwirner & Wirth. (wiki). Marcel Dzama lives and works in New York City.
Selected permanent collections: The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY. The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY. The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, New York, NY. The Rhode Island School of Design Museum. Tate Modern, London, England.
Marcel Dzama, “Neptune.” (2004-2005) Ink and watercolor on paper. 48-part work: Overall: 56 x 132 inches (142.2 x 335.3 cm). Each: 14 x 11 inches (35.6 x 27.9 cm).
Special thanks to Marcel Dzama, Kim Donica & Ian Simon-Curry at David Zwirner Gallery, Abrams Books, Athanasios Nikitas at Greatives, Charles Cohen, Ben Klock, Ines Dobosic & Allen Houston.
Romeo Alaeff is a visual artist from New York City, living in Berlin. He is the founder and Editor in Chief of Lines & Marks.