Marcel Dzama

By Dailey, Meghan | Artforum International, November 2000 | Go to article overview

Marcel Dzama


Dailey, Meghan, Artforum International


DAVID ZWIRNER

Marcel Dzama's drawings are like frozen moments from dreams and nightmares. The twenty-six-year-old Canadian continues to add to his voluminous output of simple ink-and-watercolor drawings of various human and animal characters. In Dzama's shows, the sheets of creamy Manila paper, most of which he tacks to the wall unframed, are often so numerous (191 were included here, and they can number as many as 500 in a single exhibition) that it can be difficult to focus on any one of them for long. All are equally fantastical, absurd, and deadpan. In the eleven-by-fourteen drawings recently on view, one can recognize a population of regulars that includes superheroes, the Tin Man, and a host of friends from the animal kingdom: owls, bunnies, crocodiles, and a lot of brown bears. Sometimes the animals wear cardigans and slacks; sometimes they are armed with knives or guns; sometimes they dance with women; sometimes they are women (in animal suits).

There's a lot of early-twentieth-century culture percolating through Dzama's fertile imagination: comic books, serial Westerns, Surrealism, psychoanalysis. His illustrational style and palette of muted browns, grays, and olive greens reinforce the vintage feel. And his female figures--stylish molls and trim flappers with bobbed hair, fur-trimmed coats, and cloches, often brandishing pistols-seem yanked from silent films. …

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