Marcel Dzama: Drawings for Dante
Timothy Taylor Gallery is pleased to present the first UK exhibition of Canadian artist Marcel Dzama, known for his distinctive page-sized line-drawings of mythical creatures involved in bizarre situations. For this exhibition ‘Drawings for Dante’, Dzama is inspired by Dante Alighieri’s ‘Inferno’.
“I didn't intend to make a series of drawings for Dante, but I guess it just happened because I was reading it at the time. I didn't think it was influencing me until someone else pointed out that my drawings were getting a lot darker. Suddenly there were many decapitated bodies and a grotesque imagery that was not there before. I guess something about the Inferno left an indelible impression on me that became Drawings for Dante.“
Seen individually Dzama’s small and delicate drawings, hand-tinted with watercolour and root-beer, have an eccentric aesthetic sensibility. The compositions of cartoon-ish creatures combine references that are at once intellectually highbrow and reminiscent of retro pop culture from the Roaring Twenties and Fifties. Previous influences have been Werner Herzog’s Nosferatu of 1979, Japanese anime, the Three Bears and the Wizard of Oz.
Papering the walls of the gallery with these drawings, the resulting installations are a barrage of disconnected and darkly humourous images linked by their psychological tension. The myriad images create the effect of a multi-channel visual binge. Dzama continues a trajectory in contemporary drawing that could, for example, include Kippenberger’s ‘Hotel Drawings’, and the work of Raymond Pettibon, Mike Kelley, and David Shrigley.
Marcel Dzama was born in 1974 in Winnipeg, Canada, where he lives and works. Since graduating in 1997, Dzama has had critically acclaimed solo shows at David Zwirner Gallery, New York, and Richard Heller Gallery in Los Angeles, ArtPace, San Antonio, Texas, Artcore, Toronto, Espacio Minimo, Madrid, Galerie Volker Diehl, Berlin and many others. Dzama is also a member of the collaborative group The Royal Art Lodge, and plays in the alternative country-noise rock band Albatross.
Dzama is developing an A-list of Hollywood celebrity collectors, including Jim Carrey, Nicholas Cage, Draw Carey, Ryan Stiles, and best-selling author Dave Eggers (A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius) who, under his own publishing imprint McSweeney’s Books, is publishing an edition of his drawings this year. Eggers has described Dzama’s work as “Two percent wit, ninety-eight percent a fragile, fragiile beauty – a perfect alchemy”.