Saturday, January 22, 2011

Homegrown Heroes

It's always inspiring to seeing talented Canadians make it big worldwide, especially when their story has a humble beginning.

Take Marcel Dzama, for example. Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba in the late seventies to a working class family, he attended the University of Manitoba, and at the same time founded The Royal Art Lodge, an arts collective (that included his kid sister) that would meet every Wednesday to draw together. During his last year of school, he lost everything (including all of his artwork) when a fire consumed his family home, forcing his family to live in a motel for four months. Instead of dwelling on the devastation, he channeled this dark time into his work, using root beer extract as ink at his grandparents' house and developing a distinctly recognisable dark brown and blood-red colour scheme that would push him into art superstardom.

Fast forward to 2011. Dzama lives and works in New York City, and is in the permanent collections of many major museums, including the Museum of Modern Art and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. He has exhibited extensively worldwide, and has a star-studded list of private collectors including Spike Jonze, Brad Pitt and Steve Martin.

Dzama's work began as elaborately eerie watercolour and ink drawings of beasts, mythical creatures, human-animal hybrids and snappily dressed businessmen with guns and swords pointed at the beasts and each other. Bats, bears, lagoon monsters, and identically-masked women with bayonets create large-scale patterns that are as beautiful from afar as they are close up. Dzama's work has expanded into large sculptural replicas of these characters, such as bears with bats hovering overhead, tree stumps with eyes and legs, and full scenes of suited men with guns, picking bats and birds out of the sky.

Learn more about Dzama here.

1 comment:

Erin said...

Years ago, when I was but a starving student, I saw some really cool drawings in the window at a now-defunct gallery on Granville. I went in and thought, "Wow, I *really* like these." It even crossed my mind to borrow $175 from my mom to buy one. But did I? No! ARGH! I'm guessing it's obvious whose drawings they were...