Royal Art Lodge
The Royal Art Lodge was a Winnipeg-based collective which began in 1996 and concluded in 2008. Its founding members were Michael Dumontier, Marcel Dzama, Neil Farber, Drue Langlois, Jonathan Pylypchuk and Adrian Williams. Hollie Dzama, Marcel’s young sister, and Myles Langlois, Drue’s brother had also been members. As well as gathering together once weekly, usually on Wednesday nights, to draw collectively their practice also included video, music, doll making and performance. Their work is in major private and public collections worldwide and has been broadly exhibited. A major retrospective exhibition, “Ask the Dust” was curated in 2003 by former Winnpegger Wayne Baerwaldt and Joseph Wollin and was shown at the Drawing Centre, New York, The Power Plant, Toronto, De Vlieshal, Middleburg and moca in Los Angeles.
The Royal Art Lodge members met when most were together in Winnipeg attending Art School, gathering to draw once weekly and continuing this practice after graduation. Some members left, (Jon Pylypchuck and Adrian Williams moved from the city) and others were added, (Marcel’s sister Hollie and Drue’s brother Myles). At their drawing sessions a work would be passed from one to the other, like an exquisite corpse but visible to all, in the manner of the Surrealists whose influence is evident in some of the Lodge’s drastic dark humour. Anything was a suitable surface: matchbook covers, old envelopes, cereal box flaps, loose-leaf paper, hotel stationary. Once approved a work was stamped with the date and consigned to a stack according to quality. The sources for their work were myriad and included the economic lines and rich mythology of Inuit work housed in the Winnipeg Art Gallery, or anything at all that their collective glances fell on. Since 2003 the ral was the trio of Dzama, Farber and Dumontier, and although each has his own career they produced single image drawings and works which ran as wall friezes, such as Library Relocation Party, a continuous work on a single topic. They also worked together on paintings like Preoccupation—a running horizontal band of work, 30 panels placed in a line, each measuring only four-by-six inches with up to 15 pieces sharing, if not a linear narrative, at least a common horizon line. Certain animals occur throughout: elephants, snakes, frogs, bats, and characters find themselves surprised, bewildered, set-upon. Their world is a confusing place and all its components are animate. Trees walk, rocks have faces and species happily cohabit. The painting is highly accomplished.