Ray Pettibon, Marcel Dzama and an exquisite corpse

The artists team up to employ a surrealist technique in their new show at David Zwirner in New York
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Marcel Dzama and Raymond Pettibon, Back in the land of the cat, 2015 Pencil, ink, gouache, and collage on paper 20 x 16 inches (50.8 x 40.6 cm) Courtesy David Zwirner, New York/London
Marcel Dzama and Raymond Pettibon, Back in the land of the cat, 2015 Pencil, ink, gouache, and collage on paper 20 x 16 inches (50.8 x 40.6 cm) Courtesy David Zwirner, New York/London

While both the US painter and illustrator Raymond Pettibon and the Canadian artist Marcel Dzama have been showing their works in galleries for decades, each made their name outside the art world. Pettibon, brother of the famed punk guitarist and Black Flag founder Greg Ginn, began his creative career as a record cover and concert flyer illustrator. Dzama has also produced record covers, as well as costume design and occasional comic-book contributions, working for the likes of Beck and Bob Dylan.

 

Marcel Dzama and Raymond Pettibon, Disco death of Rasputin, 2015 Pencil, ink, gouache, and collage on paper 21 x 16 1/4 inches (53.3 x 41.3 cm) Courtesy David Zwirner, New York/London
Marcel Dzama and Raymond Pettibon, Disco death of Rasputin, 2015 Pencil, ink, gouache, and collage on paper 21 x 16 1/4 inches (53.3 x 41.3 cm) Courtesy David Zwirner, New York/London

Today, both are represented by David Zwirner, and both are about to stage an eerie joint exhibition at Zwirner’s 533 West 19th Street gallery in New York. Entitled Forgetting the Hand, the exhibition opens January 14 and brings together a series of drawings on paper produced by the pair within the past few months.

 

Marcel Dzama and Raymond Pettibon,  The ghosts in these walls, 2015 Pencil, ink, gouache, and collage on paper 14 x 11 1/8 inches (35.6 x 28.3 cm) Courtesy David Zwirner, New York/London
Marcel Dzama and Raymond Pettibon, The ghosts in these walls, 2015 Pencil, ink, gouache, and collage on paper 14 x 11 1/8 inches (35.6 x 28.3 cm) Courtesy David Zwirner, New York/London

Dzama and Pettibon, the gallery explains, employed their own version of the surrealist technique the exquisite corpse, wherein one artist or writer begins an artwork, but conceals much of the work, revealing only just enough for another to complete the piece.

While chance plays a large role in this kind of creative endevour, luck was on the side of this duo from the start, as both artists share a fairly straightforward figurative style, a macabre sensibility, and a fine understanding of abject pop culture.

 

Marcel Dzama Still from A Flower of Evil, 2015 Courtesy David Zwirner, New York/London
Marcel Dzama Still from A Flower of Evil, 2015 Courtesy David Zwirner, New York/London

Zwirner originally published these works a kind of artists’ fanzine last summer, yet the gallery has returned to the project with a number of newer works included in the show. These include a video Dzama recreated, An Evil Flower, which draws on his collaborative experience, and features the actress, author, and comedian Amy Sedaris starring as the artist, as well as several other characters in costumes made by Dzama. Sounds like an early 2016 highlight.

 

Marcel Dzama and Raymond Pettibon We will ride into the sunset, 2015 Pencil, ink, gouache, and collage on paper 21 x 16 1/8 inches (53.3 x 41 cm) Courtesy David Zwirner, New York/London
Marcel Dzama and Raymond Pettibon We will ride into the sunset, 2015 Pencil, ink, gouache, and collage on paper 21 x 16 1/8 inches (53.3 x 41 cm) Courtesy David Zwirner, New York/London

You can find out more about Pettibon’s life and work in our Contemporary Artist Series book. For greater insight into today’s drawing talent, get Vitamin D2 and for a deeper understanding of the  exquisite corpse and other surreaslist techniques, get this Surrealism overview.


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