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God Respects Me When I Work, But Loves Me When I Paint

Sasha Zirulnik

Aug 4 - 20, 2023
New York

Artist Sasha Zirulnik Announces Fourth Solo Show: "God Respects Me When I Work, But Loves Me When I Paint" Exhibition at Pop Gun, NYC. Written by Sofia Karliner


[New York, NY] –– Brooklyn-based artist Sasha Zirulnik and Pop Gun Gallery invite art enthusiasts and the public alike to experience her exhibition, "God Respects Me When I Work, But Loves Me When I Paint," at Pop Gun gallery, located at 75 E Broadway Unit #230, New York, NY. The exhibition will commence with an opening reception on Friday, August 4th, 2023, from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm.


"God Respects Me When I Work, But Loves Me When I Paint" marks Sasha Zirulnik's fourth solo show. The exhibition comprises six works, three new paintings and three sculptures, all enmeshed in conversation with one another. The paintings taken alone represent Sasha’s journey to New York as she flees a tumultuous situation. A floating head gazes towards the Manhattan shore in the first painting titled Mother of Exiles, 2023, a decapitated profile titled Sculpture Study, 2023 looks to the future in the second, and the third and final painting titled The Arrival ( Look Up ), 2023 is grounded in the present, almost godlike in its forward-facing appraisal of the viewer. The paintings should not merely be taken as a series, however, as two of them are direct depictions of their sculpted counterparts, taking on new meaning in each medium. Alongside the Statue of Liberty, which Sasha uses as the exhibition’s focal point, Sasha’s curly hair persists in both sculpture and painting, in many ways representing the transformation into selfhood, as she morphs more and more into herself and blends into the iconography of New York City, donning the mask of Lady Liberty in both sculpture and painting. 


Drawing from her background as a sculpture major at the San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI), Sasha experiments with mediums such as oil paint, cement, plaster, and found objects. One such object is a purchased Statue of Liberty mask, its empty sockets placed over a mannequin-like head sporting Sasha’s own dark curls. The statue ends at the neck, a form that is reiterated in all three oil paintings, and one that Sasha marks as intentional: “When painting the soul of myself I paint a chopped head in its most reduced form. The loss of one’s head is the stripping of one’s self. In (art) history we see the victor carrying the loser's head as complete annihilation of its former opponent, signifying the end of one person, idea, government, dishonor—a physical and metaphorical act.” The painting Mother of Exiles, 2023 is the most literal nod to beheading, with a curly-haired head floating in water, looking towards the Statue of Liberty, its severed neck evocative of raw meat. If the Statue of Liberty is the star of the show, decapitation is its supporting act, symbolizing a conscious death, a waking humiliation. The violence inherent to decapitation, although an obvious motif, is what Sasha herself describes as cartoonish, “a reflection on the commonality and desensitization of cruelty that we all, on some level, endure.” The less graphic meat-like-depictions of decapitation emphasize the interplay between cruelty and the necessary continuation of every-day life. 


The show’s title, "God Respects Me When I Work, But Loves Me When I Paint" is taken from the mystic Bengali poet, Rabindranath Tagore, who referenced singing in lieu of painting as his true life’s purpose. Sasha, whose New York life has been not only one of refuge but struggle as she navigates dispassionate work in the support of her art, demonstrates a hard resilience and self-reflection in her choice of title. The multi-medium show is a compelling commentary on escape, pain and hope; its very existence a relatable acknowledgement of the choice we all must make to persevere towards purpose in the face of limiting circumstance. 


Artist Bio: Sasha was born in San Francisco in 1995, she graduated from SFAI with a BFA in sculpture, and has shown works in Switzerland, New York, Massachusetts, Oregon and California. This will be her 4th solo show. 

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