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MOCA Presents Drawings by the Royal Art Lodge
The Royal Art Lodge. Hygiene and Health, collaborative drawing, 1998. Mixed medium on paper. 11 x 8 1/2 in.
Collection The Royal Art Lodge.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA.- The Royal Art Lodge: Ask the Dust is the first international touring exhibition from the acclaimed Winnipeg-based artist collective The Royal Art Lodge. Showcasing approximately 300 of their collaborative drawings as well as over 400 solo works in various mediums, the exhibition opens at The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) Pacific Design Center (8687 Melrose Avenue in West Hollywood) on November 14, 2004, and remains on view through February 14, 2005.

The Royal Art Lodge: Ask the Dust is curated by independent curator Joseph R. Wolin and The Power Plant Director Wayne Baerwaldt, and jointly organized by The Drawing Center, New York; The Power Plant, Toronto; De Vleeshal, Middelburg, the Netherlands; and Plug In ICA, Winnipeg. MOCA Assistant Curator Michael Darling is coordinating MOCA’s presentation.

The Royal Art Lodge was created in 1996 by six undergraduate students from the University of Manitoba's art department who began meeting regularly to make drawings together. The group began with Marcel Dzama, Neil Farber, Michael Dumontier, Drue Langlois, Adrian Williams, and Jonathan Pylypchuk and later included Hollie Dzama and Myles Langlois. They called themselves The Royal Art Lodge in a tongue-in-cheek gesture that reflected both their roots in a provincial Canadian city and the slightly hermetic nature of their group. Often referring to themselves as a "Self-Serving Secret Society," they joked that "No one gets in, no one gets out."

Since 1996, The Royal Art Lodge has met every Wednesday evening in their studio at a nondescript Winnipeg warehouse. The collaborative process of drawing is unique: One member starts a drawing and then passes it along, giving each member an opportunity to alter, augment, and finally deem the drawing complete. As each drawing is finished, it is date stamped and archived in one of five suitcases according to the members' opinion of merit. Each suitcase is marked with ranked symbols, such as a rayed sun for the very best drawings, a heart for the second best, a sad rain cloud for the bad drawings, a skull and crossbones for the works to be destroyed, and a sun face with shield for drawings to which the group is personally attached.

Over the past seven years, the group has collaborated on thousands of drawings which reflect the dry wit, quirky sense of humor, diligent exuberance, and youthful optimism of its members. Their influences are many and varied, such as comics, children’s art and book illustrations, film noir, science fiction, vintage pornography, George Burns, Dante, surrealism, and Fluxus art. The core of their production is drawings, but they also produce mixed-media drawings and collages, paintings, stuffed dolls, dioramas, kites, puppets, videos, musical instruments, compact discs, records, and fanzines as well as various masks, costumes, props, and performance sets.

Together and separately, they have begun to achieve worldwide recognition for their accomplished and extensive draftsmanship, incisive and unforgettable characterizations, and a do-it-yourself low-tech aesthetic that all combine to create an art of dynamic energy, whimsical charm, and surprising beauty.

About the Artists: The Royal Art Lodge consists of six members, several of whom are related to one another. Originally, the group included Marcel Dzama, Neil Farber, Michael Dumontier, Drue Langlois, Adrian Williams, and Jonathan Pylypchuk. Later when Pylypchuk and Williams left, Hollie Dzama and Myles Langlois joined as members. The Dzamas and Langloises are siblings and Farber is the Dzamas' uncle.

The members have also developed solo careers, and the exhibition will highlight some of their individual works outside the context of the group, giving a fuller picture of the artists’ particular interests and how their unique visions come to bear on The Royal Art Lodge output. Some of their unique styles include M. Dzama's sexually charged images and hybrid creatures drawn in rootbeer and ink, D. Langlois’s melodramatic dioramas, and Pylypchuk’s rough-hewn yet emotionally tender collages.

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