Home Magazine Dasha Shiskin: Between painting and drawing

Shishkin is perhaps best known for her enigmatic figurative drawings which she does on Mylar, a type of translucent plastic, which is not commonly used by artists of her ilk. Many of the drawings are done on both sides of the Mylar and so enable the translucent colour layering the works achieve so well.

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Viewers of Shishkin’s over-brimming drawings are swept up in the fast-paced and flattened worlds presented to us. Each work generally holds within it various separate yet overlapping and entangled narratives, united through a loosely defined often claustrophobic spatial scheme, which is often suggestive of an interior. The focal point or dramatic centre of the drawings are often elusive, but they exude a pleasant harmony achieved through their gaudy and sharp colour scheme

Compositionally and graphically, they manage to combine the kind of decorated compositions found in over-the more decadent kind of baroque paintings with a cartoonish sensibility. Colour and line manage to mingle and simultaneously lead and follow each other around the works. Shishkin’s world abandons any attempts to be rooted in the real and in fact it wilfully collapses into a melee of half-familiar body parts and architectural features. The emotional tone of the works is somewhere between the comic and the grotesque


Dasha Shiskin, Soft and Entitled, 2012.


Paying attention to readable details, the drawings are almost exclusively populated by women who are in several states of undress, often posing in erotic and sexually charged ways. Their faces blur into one another and their overwhelming effect is to unsettle. 

Stylistically, Shishkin is in conversation with artists incorporating a similar level of crumbly cartoonish and stylised draughtsmanship into a practise that occupies a space somewhere between painting and drawing. Some of the most visible exponents of this style are Peter Doig, Sanya Kantarovsky and Ella Kruglyanskaya. More broadly, Shishkin has drawn comparison with Egon Schiele, Brice Marden, Henry Darger.

Dasha Shishkin was born in Moscow in 1977 and now lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. Her education background is fairly typical: she graduated with an MFA from Columbia University in 2006 and a BFA from the New School for Social Research in 2001. Her work has been broadly exhibited across the U.S., and solo exhibitions have so far included the Museum of Contemporary Art, Santa Barbara, CA; Griffelkunst, Hamburg, Germany; and Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, OH, Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, Boulder, CO. She has been including in the touring group exhibition ‘Greater New York’, which began at MoMA PS1, New York before transferring to Saatchi Gallery, London and the Dakis Joannou Collection, Athens. Her work is held in a prestigious array of museums including the Museum of Modern Art, The Whitney, Dallas Museum of Art. 

Her auction market still appears to be in its infancy, with the top result from 2016 going twice over its low estimate to sell for $11,555. Only two other results exceed the $10,000 mark. 


Dasha Shiskin, analyte detection via protein nano spores, 2014. 


Cover image: Dasha Shiskin, What Does It Matter To Her Ever Creating Womb If Today Matter Is Flesh And Tomorrow Worms,2012

Written by Max Lunn

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