Marcel Dzama
The Course of Human History Personified

By Dee Dee Vega

One would think it takes a much older man to be as dark as Marcel Dzama. Born in 1974 in Winnepeg, nothing as subtly subversive has surfaced from Canada since the films of David Cronenberg. Part Goya, part Bosch and a unsettling dash of Henry Darger, Dzama's exhibition of delicately rendered pen and watercolor works at the David Zwirner Gallery called The Course of Human History Personified is about as droll as a children's bedtime story by Anton La Vey. The title of the body of works, which in addition to drawings includes resin sculpture and costumes, is borrowed from Dante. And like Dante, Dzama develops a cast of characters one is not likely to forget from spread-winged sparrows soaring with nooses in their beaks, effortlessly sailing with dead human weight, to prepubescent girl-tree hybrids. The range of his palate could have been taken from body fluids with dried-blood red, brown and cream ruling the paper. Few shows in recently memory are as finely crafted and subtle as Dzama's, while plumbing the darker depths of the human subconscious.