Some time has passed and considerable distance covered since Marcel Dzama first drew the attention of an art audience for his trademark root beer palette and single figure drawings on small white sheets. Now there are multiple figures and the incidents unfolding are more complex. The essential repertory cast is still evident, although it has been significantly augmented. Nostalgia plays a major role in Dzama’s work, a characteristic he thinks springs naturally from his roots in Winnipeg, a city of myth and myth-making. He attributes his interest in film and how he uses it, to Winnipeg filmmaker Guy Maddin. Dzama readily acknowledges his influences and sources. The Inuit art he saw early on at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, the work his friends were doing, the short stories of Hemingway and the retro glamour of the women of the inter-war period, and Dante’s The Divine Comedy. He read James Joyce and culled his use of stream-of-consciousness, a method which Dzama found corresponded to his own interrupted, non linear narratives. Duchamp is significant for Dzama, particularly his enigmatic Étant donnés, and Dzama regards him as an endless resource to whom he will continually return. And there’s the rich vein of the Surrealists, and the collages of Hannah Hoch and John Heartfield. Marcel Dzama, with his music videos, theatrical dioramas, elegant paintings, drawings, collages, films, sculpture and installations adds to and borrows from the whole continuum of art, of which he is now very much a part.
Marcel Dzama was born in Winnipeg in 1974, where he attended the University of Manitoba, graduating with an Honours Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree. He was an original member in 1996 of the now legendary arts collective, The Royal Art Lodge, and continued as one of three remaining members working with Michael Dumontier and Neil Farber, from 2003 until 2008 when the ral concluded. Throughout, Dzama maintained a solo career and has shown his paintings, drawings, sculptures, installations and films in private and public galleries internationally. His work is in major private and public collections worldwide. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.