Dasha Shishkin

Speaking with Dasha Shishkin for this month's Nylon was one of the greatest pleasures I had before Christmas. She was courteous and gracious and really funny. And it just made me want to dive headfirst into her work and follow her mad-crazy protagonists. We spoke about calendars and stickers and the thrill of marking important dates in some way, things to look forward to and to work toward. The piece is in print. But you can read it here too. And make sure to see her show, if you're in Ohio, at the DAC from March 3

Some Things Just Got to be True, 2011, mixed media on mylar, 228.6 x 320 cm. Courtesy of the artist and Zach Feuer Gallery, NY

Dasha Shishkin is a maker of surprising and explosive things. The Russian-born, Brooklyn-based artist weaves a world of sinuous lines, kaleidoscopic colors, and psychedelic imagery. From large-scale wall drawings produced in situ to tiny etchings, her work vacillates between figuration and abstraction.
Since completing her MFA at Columbia in 2006, Shishkin has shown her work extensively and is present in major collections, from MoMA and the Whitney in New York City to the Art Institute of Chicago. Currently preparing her first solo museum show, opening at the Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati next month, she’s locked into her intuitive, organic working process.
“It becomes like an exquisite corpse game where someone else—the material—is suggesting something to me,” says Shiskin, of the trigger for her new work. Though grounded in figuration, she avoids any idea of narrative: suggestion and open-endedness are key.
The ideas at play in the making of Shishkin's work only become apparent to her once a show is hung. “Whatever is obsessing me is not only on the surface of my mind but also something subconsciously present and bothersome.” Shishkin's work has been compared to that of Matisse, Egon Schiele and Marcel Dzamaartists for whom considerations of form are always intrinsically weighted by intense human emotion. Equally though, her process brings to mind artists including Yayoi Kusama, for whom abstract form itself takes on a life of its own, one seeped in the artist’s inner turbulence. “Often a motif will keep reappearing, say a circle, and it becomes like an obsessive compulsive thing," she says. "It isn’t always a conscious decision to work with certain imagery, but more like something you have to get out of your system.”

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