Marcel Dzama: Crossing the Line
David Zwirner is pleased to present Crossing the Line, an exhibition of new work by Canadian-born artist Marcel Dzama at the gallery’s Hong Kong location. Including drawings, dioramas, and a film, this exhibition marks the artist’s first solo presentation in Greater China and his ninth with David Zwirner.
Image: Installation view, Marcel Dzama: Crossing the line, David Zwirner, Hong Kong, 2019
"I have always enjoyed trickster characters throughout history and mythology, as a way to escape the hold of the logical. I do from time to time candy-coat what I’m projecting in my work. Like my anger and anxieties around our times. In some of the work, I try to explain it, but in other works I pass over it in silence. I like the viewer to decide what’s happening."
Image: Marcel Dzama, Overwhelmed by the sun and tormented by the night, 2018 (detail)
"I enjoy interpretations—especially misinterpretations. Relationships between the characters change from work to work and show to show, and so does any associated symbolism or meaning. It’s almost as if they have their own separate worlds or dimensions all within the same universe. I do imagine background stories for most of the characters, but those too can change from show to show.…Right now I am definitely going through my blue period."
"There are a lot of themes of rebirth, or life-into-death. For example, the figure of a phoenix appears a lot, as in The female freedom fighters for our future and Moustiques domestiques #9 (or I’ll trap this moment before it’s ripe)."
"Sometimes I will start with just a blank page and do an automatic drawing. Other times I’ll have an image in mind or in front of me, and I’ll use it as a reference in my composition. I think I’m influenced by making films. I subconsciously think about the rule of thirds, the page divided into nine equal segments by two vertical and two horizontal lines, with the most important elements at the points where the lines intersect. But I purposely break those rules from time to time. The medium I start with is graphite, and then with the smaller drawings I’ll use watercolor paint, and the larger drawings are acrylic paint. Every now and then, though, I’ll keep them just in graphite."
"[Nothing we shall see] was inspired by William Blake’s drawing of Dante encountering Beatrice. When he sees God for the first time, there’s just this swirl of eyeball clouds."
Image: Marcel Dzama, Nothing we shall see, 2018 (detail)
"I think the text in Long live this creature of good fortune says, ‘Place your bets.’ Usually, I’ll use the language of the place where I’ll be showing. I like not having English. Maybe because I showed in Spain earlier this year, I’m writing in Spanish. So I try to include Chinese in this series."
Image: Marcel Dzama,And who breaks a butterfly on a wheel? or A rapture, a butterfly, a dancer and a bowie knife, 2018 (detail)
"This situation right now in the United States with Trump makes you want to just burn it all down and start over.… I don’t censor myself. If you’re sending out a political message, it has only one interpretation. But when I do an automatic drawing, it’s open to many interpretations."
"When I lived in Canada, my drawings were really minimal—usually two or three characters on a page. Then, when I moved to New York, all of a sudden I made these very claustrophobic-looking drawings with characters everywhere. I wanted to give them some sort of order, so I put them in dance positions. Then I started buying old dance magazines from the seventies and the sixties. I would draw the poses from the magazines and would read the articles. I became fascinated. Ballet came to me from giving order to chaos."
Image: Marcel Dzama, Don't ask her...she'll tell you the truth. (or We don't hide from every searching eye), 2018 (detail)
Published by David Zwirner Books, Marcel Dzama: Crossing the Line includes a conversation between Dzama and the scholar and writer Laila Pedro. The publicationis available in both English only and bilingual English/traditional Chinese editions.
"In what you could call 'aftermath' of the US elections of 2016, we sat down with Brooklyn-based, Calgary-born painter Marcel Dzama in his studio in NY and talked about how much art could be effective in the supermodern world. . . . Fast-forward to [his] newest solo exhibition, Crossing the Line . . .and the artist is still speaking for the times in poignant and graceful ways. Gone are the days of his minimal works at part of the Royal Art Lodge; today sees dense, complicated, highly detailed works that touch on contemporary issues but almost appear out of a fairy-tale."
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