Marcel Dzama

Tonight We Dance

Tonight We Dance, a solo exhibition of works by Marcel Dzama, originally from Canada and now living and working in New York, presented works on the theme of dance that reflect his powerful subconscious world.

Through his fascinating and immediately identifiable imagery, Marcel Dzama (b. 1974 in Winnipeg) explores the wavering relationship between the real and the subconscious, good and evil, and various forms of the use of power. Human figures, animals and hybrids of them are set on the same stage in Dzama’s works. Realism is replaced by the logic of dreams, and the truth is communicated through the absurd – often extremely mordantly.

The history of humankind is reflected in Dzama’s works in the present state of society and political events. In addition to topical societal events, his subjects are taken from fables and myths, comic strips and films, and also from the history of art. The influences from various periods are combined to represent both present-day reality and a world of dream and fantasy. Various mythical figures are set as part of the strangest and most fantastical events, the origins of which lie in our reality. There is not only tragedy but also humour in Dzama’s works.

The visual inspiration for Dzama lies in early twentieth-century art, in particular in avantgarde movements like Dada, surrealism, the Bauhaus movement and the works of Francisco de Goya, Francis Picabia and Marcel Duchamp.

The move from Winnipeg to New York in 2004 influenced the contents, subject matter and size of Dzama’s works. The earlier small-scale graphite drawings and watercolours with their restricted range of colours gave way to works that were ever fuller, more colourful and more populated with figures. In order to control the chaos of his surroundings, Dzama began to set the figures in his drawings like characters on a stage, to some extent in a precisely planned choreography. And gradually dance became a central theme in his works.

In 2016 Dzama worked with the New York City Ballet to design the costumes and sets for a ballet The Most Incredible Thing, which was based on a fable by Hans Christian Andersen. After the ballet project, the stage itself became an ever more important subject for Dzama. He began to make model stages out of wood with miniature performers and sets which he filled with figures familiar from his earlier works.

The exhibition Tonight We Dance presented Dzama’s works from the beginning of the 21st century to the present day. This comprehensive overview is constructed around his works on the subject of dance. On display were drawings paintings, collages, videos, sculptures and installations.