Every tine I see an installation or works by Marcel Dzama, I want to live in the world of these characters. That he makes films brings that point to life a bit, directs his world into a bit of subconscious fantasy. But there is both a throwback element to his work and an ode to a byegone era of experimentation of the surrealists and Dadaists before, and a futuristic part of Dzama's world that feels almost feral and naturally celebratory. I love this dichotomy because it makes you work a bit as a viewer, to picture youself here, to be immersed. The Moon is Following Me, Dzama's first solo exhibition in Belgium, on view at Tim Van Laere Gallery, Antwerp through March 6, features an all-encompassing experience of the Winnipeg-born, NYC-based artist: drawings, sculptures, dioramas and a film. 

One of the elements of this show that is brought into focus is Dzama's love of chess. It makese sense; chess is both about a set of rules and a chance to react and evolve in a more freestyled way. The gallery mentions a balance between improvisation and predetermination, and such is life and such is the craft of an artist that toes the line of being direct in his observations of the current state of the world and a bit of surrealist himself. Over the past 4 years, and one part of the era that began with our last cover story with Marcel, he was quite direct with his feelings about the Trump years, part of which surprised me but, when put into his world, felt like a powerful move that his characters didn't exist in a vaccum. It brought you further into his universe; you were there with him. 

Four years later, the era has ended (or, the reign has ended, so to speak). This puts Dzama's new show into a fascinating focus. "Because the Trump years were so traumatizing.” Marcel says of the show and his mindset creating it. “Also I usually either do political drawing or I go for this kind of vacation feeling. Almost idyllic. A lot of them are based on photographs taken of my son and wife on vacation. I am still playing with this. I also made a lot of drawings during the US elections, I needed to draw in order not to think too much about it. The beast is lost and beauty is found, Calypso, It is my flesh that she wears, Here I stand in the land of praise and blame. There are a lot of sinister elements mixed with more serene themes.” 

There it is again, a dichotomy of serene and sinister. Dancing for pleasure and dancing through pain. The best artists can do that, and Dzama, decades into a successful and influential career, seems to have found even another level of storytelling that pushes you to understand your own internal dichotomies. —Evan Pricco