Forgetting the Hand, a novel collaboration between Marcel Dzama and Raymond Pettibon, is currently on view at David Zwirner Gallery. The show pulls together two artists, who, though emerging from vastly different generations and backgrounds, share noted parallels in the conveyance of the ridicule of contemporary culture. Even the exhibition title emphasizes the interconnectedness between the two artists’ practices, where distinction of authorship between the two evaporates. Both represented by David Zwirner since the 90’s, Pettibon and Dzama embarked on this collaboration in the summer of 2015 on the occasion of New York Art Book Fair, where David Zwirner Books presented a zine printed with many of these pieces.
Initially a challenging game to provoke the subconsciousness, as well as the rigidly methodical foundations of art and literature, the pair explored a sort of exquisite corpse technique. In the center of this type of collaboration, which had its inception in the hands of Surrealists like André Breton and Yves Tanguy, lies a series of twisted inversions in each artist’s style, bending figures from pop culture with bizarre scenes, the result of each artist only completing half the drawing before the other took over.
Dzama’s meticulous use of language and image, laden with whimsical adaptations and twists on reality bears unworldly potpourris of dance, performance, fashion and literature here, as recurring characters and images draw nourishment from the distortion of corporeality and logic. Rituals on sexuality, ardor and existence take center stage with an uncompromising sense of style. The artist has also contributed a video piece to the show, A Flower of Evil, starring comedian and author Amy Sedaris in the role of Marcel Dzama.
Pettibon, however comes from the legacy of California subculture shared by likes of Mike Kelley and Jim Shaw, each of which grasped America and its cultural reflections through distinctly hyperbolic tones. Components fetched from television, comic books and everyday consumerist habits blend together, mixing a mocking tone with a degree of political provocation. The works on view, sweeping across the gallery walls through fluid arrangements, thematically vary, omitting easily framed narratives. Far-reaching in their range of references within each juxtaposition, the show manages to deliver a singular thread of shared interest between two otherwise distinct artists as their distinguished tones, emphasizing the show’s title in fitting fashion.
Marcel Dzama and Raymond Pettibon: Forgetting the Hand is on view at David Zwirner through February 20, 2016.
*All images are by Osman Can Yerebakan for Art Observed.
— O.C. Yerebakan
David Zwirner [Exhibition Page]