NEW YORK, NY.- David Zwirner
presents a solo exhibition of new work by Marcel Dzama, on view at the gallerys 525 West 19th Street space. The exhibition features the artists ﬁlm, A Game of Chess, alongside related drawings, sculptures, and dioramas.
Dzama has become known for his proliﬁc drawings, which are characterized by their distinctive palette of muted browns, grays, greens, and reds. In recent years, the artist has expanded his practice to encompass three-dimensional work and ﬁlm and has developed an immediately recognizable language that draws from a diverse range of references and artistic inﬂuences, including Dada and Marcel Duchamp.
Dzamas ﬁlm features characters based on the classic game of chess. Dressed in geometrically designed costumes of papier-mâché, plaster, and ﬁberglass and wearing elaborate masks (including a quadruple-faced mask for the King), the ﬁgures dance across a checkered board to challenge their opponents in fatal interchanges.
Chess occupied a central role for the early twentieth-century avant-garde, who drew explicit analogies between the game (with its intricate balance between improvisation and predetermination) and artistic practice. Dzama is inﬂuenced by German Bauhaus artist Oskar Schlemmer, whose Triadic Ballet from 1922 included puppet-like, costumed, and mask-wearing ﬁgures dancing across a checkered surface. French ﬁlm maker René Clair and painter Francis Picabia were amongst other artists who integrated ballet and chess in their works from the 1920s, employing the special set of rules and moves of the game as metaphors for larger questions regarding free will, destiny, and technological determinism.
Both the ﬁlming and the creation of the costumes for A Game of Chess were carried out in Guadalajara, Mexico, and the inﬂuence of local crafts and religious traditions can be felt throughout this body of work. Notions of scapegoatism and resurrection blend with the timeless idea of rivalry represented by the game, and distinctions
between reality and ﬁction ultimately become blurred as both costumed and real-life characters in the ﬁlm are killed. The storyline in this way recalls the Surrealist predilection for dream logic over conventional narrative formepitomized by Luis Buñuels ﬁlms from the late 1920s and early 1930s. However, Dzama still retains a strong sense of a plot, with subtle insinuations to contemporary life discernible throughout.
The exhibition also presents rotating sculptures based on central characters in the ﬁlm, as well as a mechanized carousel with puppets made from tin and ceramics. Upon entering the exhibition, visitors ﬁrst encounter Dzamas drawings and a room of sculptures before reaching the ﬁlm installation. This gradual, three-tiered transition from ﬂat, wall-mounted works, via rotating sculptures, to moving images coincides with a shift from light, quiet spaces to the darkened area of the ﬁlm with its accompanying acoustics. Further emphasizing this contrast, a mariachi band staged a live performance of music inspired by the ﬁlms soundtrack on the exhibitions opening night at selected times throughout its duration.
Marcel Dzama was born in 1974 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. In 2010, his work was the subject of a solo exhibition at the Musée dArt Contemporain de Montréal, Canada, which will travel to Oakville Galleries, Oakville, Canada (2011) and the Dalhousie Art Gallery, Halifax, Canada (2012). Other recent solo and group shows include those organized by The Museum of Modern Art, New York (Compass in Hand: Selections from The Judith Rothschild Foundation Contemporary Drawings Collection, 2009 and The Compulsive Line: Etching 1900 to Now, 2006); Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich (2008, solo); the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin (Order, Desire, Light, 2008); and the 2006 Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. The artists work will be featured in upcoming solo exhibitions at the Gemeentemuseum, The Hague, The Netherlands (March - June, 2011); Kunstverein Braunschweig, Germany (September - November, 2011); and the Contemporary Art Museum, Guadalajara, Mexico (2011). The artist lives in Brooklyn, New York.