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b. 1974, Canada

Marcel Dzama Biography

Influenced by folklore, fairy tales and religious iconography, Canadian artist Marcel Dzama's otherworldly ink and watercolour drawings investigate storytelling, desire and identity with a dark twist.

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Life and Influences

Born in 1974 in Winnipeg, Canada, Marcel Dzama received his BFA from the University of Manitoba in 1997.

While at university, he founded The Royal Art Lodge, a collective of Winnipeg-based artists including Michael Dumontier, Neil Farber, and Jon Pylypchuk. The artists would meet once a week to draw and paint, often producing collaborative work in response to each other's practice. The group became a crucial platform for launching the careers of some of its members.

Dzama's creative output is influenced by the dramatic regional flora and fauna surrounding Winnipeg. Other early influences include William Blake, Francisco Goya, and Canadian Inuit artist Nancy Pukingrnak Aupaluktuq.

Ink and Watercolour Drawings

Dzama's curiosity with folk vernacular has led him to depict bizarre and fantastical hybrids of animals and humans in his work. His surreal, dreamlike illustrations show figures such as dancing bandits, pipe-smoking snowmen, cloaked bears and tree people. Dzama's anthropomorphic characters are playful and evocative; the eccentric communities that he portrays are reminiscent of fairy tales and children's stories, but with a dark twist that explores adult themes such as politics, psychology and sexuality. Sometimes erotic and often violent, Marcel Dzama's imaginary worlds are framed as dioramas and polyptychs.

A Jester's Dance (2013)

In 2013, Marcel Dzama produced Une danse des bouffons (A Jester's Dance), a 35-minute film that directly references Marcel Duchamp. Employing a surreal aesthetic, the film is a fictional drama depicting the doomed relationship between Duchamp and Brazilan sculptor Maria Martins. Described by Dzama as a 'Dadaist love story', the artwork is bursting with art historical references.

Costume Design

In addition to his contemporary art practice, Marcel Dzama has worked on costume and stage design for New York City Ballet's The Most Incredible Thing (2016), an ambitious performance based on Hans Christian Andersen's 1870 fairy tale. Dzama also produced an installation to accompany the ballet, titled The tension around which history is built, which was displayed at the David H. Koch Theatre, New York City in 2016.

Marcel Dzama's Exhibitions

In the late 1990s, Dzama was discovered by New York gallery David Zwirner, which has represented him since.

Marcel Dzama has exhibited extensively in solo and group exhibitions all over the world. His solo exhibitions include Who Loves the Sun, David Zwirner, New York (2021); An End to the End Times, the Savannah College of Art and Design Museum of Art (2021); Tonight We Dance, Sara Hildén Art Museum, Tampere, Finland (2021); Ya es hora, Galería Helga de Alvear, Madrid (2018); A Jester's Dance, the University of Michigan Museum of Art, Ann Arbor (2018); Drawing on a Revolution, La Casa Encendida, Madrid (2017–18); Revolution Blues, Galleri Magnus Karlsson, Stockholm (2017); The Fallen Fables, Crown Point Press, San Francisco (2015–16); Hollow Laughter, Kunstmuseum Thun, Switzerland (2014); The End Game, Chess World Hall of Fame, St Louis (2012); Aux mille tours (Of Many Turns), Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal, Montréal (2010).

Marcel Dzama's group exhibitions include Comics Trip!, Collection Lambert, Avignon (2021); Enjoy and Take Care!, Tim Van Laere Gallery, Antwerp (2020); Libro de Disegni, Galerie Isa, Mumbai (2020–21); We Fight to Build a Free World: An Exhibition by Jonathan Horowitz, The Jewish Museum, New York (2020–21); A Passion for Drawing: The Guerlain Collection From the Centre Pompidou Paris, Albertina Museum, Vienna (2019–20); Endless Enigma: Eight Centuries of Fantastic Art, David Zwirner, New York (2018).

Marcel Dzama's Instagram account can be found here.

Marcel Dzama lives and works in New York.

Phoebe Bradford | Ocula | 2021

Marcel Dzama, Our father was a beast, mother a beauty, and grandpa was a vampire (2021) (detail). © Marcel Dzama. Courtesy the artist and David Zwirner.

Marcel Dzama Featured Artworks

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Waiting for bueys by Marcel Dzama contemporary artwork painting, works on paper
Marcel DzamaWaiting for bueys, 2021
David Zwirner
You cannot cover our numbers by Marcel Dzama contemporary artwork painting, works on paper, drawing
Marcel DzamaYou cannot cover our numbers, 2017Watercolour, ink, and graphite on paper
97.8 x 127 cm
David Zwirner Contact Gallery
Now we take flight by Marcel Dzama contemporary artwork painting, works on paper, drawing
Marcel DzamaNow we take flight, 2018Gouache, ink, and graphite on paper
55.9 x 35.6 cm
David Zwirner Contact Gallery
There it goes Beuys by Marcel Dzama contemporary artwork painting, works on paper, drawing
Marcel DzamaThere it goes Beuys, 2018Gouache, ink, and graphite on paper
35.6 x 55.9 cm
David Zwirner Contact Gallery

Marcel Dzama Current & Recent Exhibitions

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Marcel Dzama Represented By

David Zwirner contemporary art gallery in 19th Street, New York, USA David Zwirner Hong Kong, London, New York, Paris

Marcel Dzama In Ocula Magazine

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Marcel Dzama In Related Press

Forgetting the Hand by Marcel Dzama and Raymond Pettibon Related Press Forgetting the Hand by Marcel Dzama and Raymond Pettibon 15 April 2017, i-D

'Be what you want to be,' Marcel Dzama says of the theme of The Mask Makers, the booth he's curating for David Zwirner at Independent Brussels. 'The mask is freedom, anonymity, a new identity or gen

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Raymond Pettibon keeps drawing over his works at David Zwirner, and other observations this morning in Mayfair Related Press Raymond Pettibon keeps drawing over his works at David Zwirner, and other observations this morning in Mayfair 5 October 2016, ARTNews

If it wasn’t already evident that it’s Frieze Week in London, a stroll down New Bond Street would probably tip you off, as there are collectors on nearly every corner talking to dealers with binders, with iPads, and making the sounds of work being sold. There are also long lines at the ATMs in the HSBC branch here on one of...

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Marcel Dzama and Raymond Pettibon’s Weird Mind Meld Related Press Marcel Dzama and Raymond Pettibon’s Weird Mind Meld 11 February 2016, Hyperallergic

Gumby, surfers, penises, Batman and Robin, naked ladies with machine guns, Diamond Dogs-era David Bowie, bats and skulls, Charles Manson, dancers in polka dot dresses: These are a few of the motifs that crop up in Forgetting the Hand, a show of collaborative works by artists Raymond Pettibon and Marcel Dzama at David Zwirner Gallery.

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Marcel Dzama for the New York City Ballet Art Series Related Press Marcel Dzama for the New York City Ballet Art Series 14 January 2016, Juxtapoz

New York City Ballet's special Artist Series has come to be one of our favorite artistic collaborations in recent years. From Dustin Yellin to JR and FAILE, the series features special performances and installations created by different artists. This years has us especially excited! Starting January 19th, Marcel Dzama will create a major...

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Marcel Dzama In Video & Audio

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