JJ MURPHY GALLERY is pleased to present Dasha Shishkin’s solo exhibition “we are pies,” opening Wednesday, May 22, from 6–8 PM. The show runs from May 23 to June 22, 2024.

In his book of essays, Art & Instinct, the British artist Roy Oxlade questions how art might once again become a political force for change in a status-quo art world. He posits that “a shared language of drawing is perhaps the most easily available and therefore the most promising direction in any search for a sound aesthetic in art.” He asks, “So what should be the subject of drawing? Less our concepts and more our perceptions of the things around us, our lives: things, trees, houses, cats, people.”

Dasha Shishkin shares with Oxlade a strong belief in drawing as a political practice, along with a focus on the world around her. She is especially interested in “how a simple line can express an attitude.” A multi-media artist, Shishkin has extended drawing to include printmaking, arguing that, instead of paper, one draws directly on a plate. Her installation at the gallery includes a series of recent monotypes.

There is an absurd and transgressive aspect to Shishkin’s work. With a childlike, irreverent humor, she playfully explores the theme of bodily transformation. Female characters interact with animals, often cats, in sexually suggestive ways. In one monotype, a woman’s body parts—hands, feet, crotch, and breasts—turn into elongated feline creatures. In another, a female figure squats to urinate while playing with a cat with a very pointed nose. A woman lying on a red checkered cloth appears to give birth to a full-grown cat. As a half-naked young male walks, his uncircumcised penis turns out to be the long nose of a face containing a pair of eyes.

The strange world depicted by Shishkin reflects the graphic influence of underground comics, with fantasies that reflect her unfettered imagination. In doing so, she presents a world that defies rational logic. Leah Ollman in the LA Times has compared Shishkin’s work to the satires of William Hogarth. In a review of her show at the Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara, Charles Donelan observes, “Even as one admires the artist’s extraordinary facility with line, the aesthetic pleasure of these brightly colored, incident-filled scenes becomes complicated by the sense that their content consistently crosses over certain lines of everyday decorum.”

Dasha Shishkin (born 1977) earned a BFA from the New School for Social Research, 2001, and an MFA from Columbia University in 2006. She has had solo exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Santa Barbara, CA; the Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, OH; and the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, Boulder, CO. Group exhibitions include “Greater New York,” MoMA PS1, New York; Saatchi Gallery, London; and the Dakis Joannou Collection, Athens. Work in public collections includes: the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, Pinakothek der Moderne, Cincinnati Art Museum, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Hamburger Kunsthalle, the Art Institute of Chicago, Neues Museum Nürnberg, Museum of Old and New Art, and the Cleveland Museum of Art.