Dasha Shishkin's dive into decadence

Via @latimes: Dasha Shishkin's strange, compelling scenes at Susanne Vielmetter

An enthralling lawlessness reigns in Dasha Shishkin's world. Body parts distend and multiply, leapfrogging over boundaries of gender and species. Space collapses into prismatic fluidity, and scale is a free-for-all.

As for narrative coherence, well ... Shishkin is a generous trickster, sending us down so many enticing rabbit holes that logic quickly feels irrelevant.

Based in New York, Shishkin works in acrylic, gouache and a variety of drawing media (pastel, conté crayon, graphite, ink) on canvas and polyester film. Her pieces range in size, some of them quite large, irregularly shaped and accretive.

This show, like her first at Vielmetter in 2012, is not just a dip but a dive into decadence. The strange scenes hint of moral decline and its concomitant luxuries. One small painting, "for the busy and for vexed," looks out onto a fantastic fete attended by the physically bizarre -- characters with truncated arms and shins, or cartoon googly eyes affixed to their buttocks. Yellow orbs and pale red polka dots ornament the weirdly festive rites.

Nurses are regulars in these pieces. Old-fashioned-looking society matrons also appear, sometimes as if they, too, were seduced by the spectacle, rather than a part of it.

Here and there, an anomalous figure brings Marlene Dumas to mind; the ghost of Henry Darger loiters throughout. These are mash-ups of the most beguiling sort, marrying cartoons and masterpieces, the wicked and the naive, polite hues of lilac and coral with party-crashing tangerine and flamingo. Shishkin pulls it off with just confidence in her color and line and fearless curiosity.

Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects, 6006 Washington Blvd., Culver City, (310) 837-2117, through Dec. 20. Closed Sunday and Monday.



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