The characters in Dasha Shishkin's wonderfully odd drawings at Susanne Vielmetter have phallic noses, Little Orphan Annie's blank loops for eyes, and sometimes tails and horns like the children populating the psychic terrain of Henry Darger. They are mostly women, lithe, high-heeled and elegant, in environments that have some elements in common with shops and clubs, and just as many -- stray beasts, nudity -- that don't conventionally belong there. The atmosphere in these beautifully strange tableaux is opulent, decadent, vaguely deviant. William Hogarth's satires come vividly to mind.
What holds all this suggestiveness together is Shishkin's unlikely palette and entrancingly skittish line. Most of the works are acrylic and crayon on single or clustered sheets of Mylar. Shishkin, born in Moscow, educated and based in New York, lays down passages of flat color that evoke the tones of old newspaper comics and cheap candy -- chalky pink, pale butterscotch, aqua, lip-staining lime. She outlines figures and their surroundings in blue crayon. Stray marks and dashes disconnected to specific forms further animate and agitate the scenes, reiterating a sense of the surreptitious.
These rich and curious visions have titles to match: "Tongue like a wet arm," "Witty in two impersonations of a colonel and Braque's mother." It's hard to get a handle on these images, with their spirit ever shifting between rapturous, sardonic, lascivious and wounded, but it's equally hard to stop looking at them.
Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects, 6006 Washington Blvd., Culver City, (310) 837-2117, through May 12. Closed Sunday and Monday. www.vielmetter.com