Review: UIMA Presents Two Perspectives on Abstract Art

When going to an exhibition that presents abstract art, two questions always come to mind: Can contemporary abstract art still create an element of surprise? And is it still a vital form of expression in the world of art? The answer is yes to both questions when viewing Corey Postiglione and Kathie Shaw: Abstraction as Metaphor, at the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art (UIMA).

On view are 24 works by Corey Postiglione and Kathie Shaw that allow viewers the opportunity to see two abstract painters with two distinct approaches to their art. This show displays work that not only seduces us visually, but also creates a deeper awareness about the world around us as well as our own inner world.

Kathie Shaw, Fireflies in Unison
Kathie Shaw, Fireflies in Unison, 2019. Oil on canvas. Photo courtesy: Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art.

The paintings by Kathie Shaw make us reflect on environmental and meteorological issues in her works such as Tipping Point: Ice Flow and Tipping Point: Rising Water. These two paintings as well as others resemble topographical maps and landscapes. She portrays a world that is shifting and out of balance due to climate change. There is also a rhythmic quality in her work such as in the painting, Fireflies in Unison. In this work we experience a sense of movement and the scintillating flash of fireflies.

Kathie Shaw, Tipping Point: Greenland
Kathie Shaw, Tipping Point: Greenland, 2019. Oil on canvas. Photo courtesy: Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art.

Some of Shaw’s work such as her Chaos series seems to give us a microscopic view of a hidden world that cannot be seen with the naked eye. But this microscopic view is not of cellular structures of living organisms, but rather a look into the unknown, a spiritual realm, that perhaps expresses the artist’s journey in Buddhist philosophy. At first glance, the Chaos series seems to convey disorder and confusion, but upon further inspection there is an undercurrent that expresses a sense of connectedness, a sense of wholeness that all beings on this planet are joined together in this dance of life.

Corey Postiglione, Tango Glaseado #2,
Corey Postiglione, Tango Glaseado #2, 2021. Acrylic on canvas. Photo courtesy: Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art.

Where Shaw’s work has a somewhat lighter feel in terms of her use of space and color, Postiglione’s works have a denser quality. Even though his colors are more muted, he creates an energetic movement within a confined space. His works contain maze-like forms as he uses circular and ovoid shapes that intertwine with each other. When viewing a number of his works, such as Tango Glaseado #2 or his Rondel Diptychs, one is reminded of the ancient symbol—Ouroboros—the snake that eats its own tail. Like the Ouroboros symbol, Postiglione’s works reflect the eternal cycle of life—birth, death, and rebirth. When viewing his work, what also comes to mind is the figure of the lemniscate–the mathematical symbol that is shaped like the figure eight and is often used as an infinity symbol.

Corey Postiglione, Rondel Diptych #1
Corey Postiglione, Rondel Diptych #1, 2021. Acrylic on paper. Photo courtesy: Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art.

The Rondel Series and Rondo #1 seem to act as a mirror to our inner world—obsessive thoughts that spin us about in dizzying circles. The tight geometric shapes that overlap each other add to the drama on how this energy within our psyche needs to be released in order for a true transformation to take place within us.

This exhibition is a powerful reminder that abstract art is a vital form of expression in the contemporary art world. Together, Shaw and Postiglione, create a dynamic balance by giving us two vibrant looks of abstraction while they explore issues of globalization, environmental issues and the human condition.

Kathie Shaw was born and raised in Pennsylvania and received a BFA from Pennsylvania State University and later received her Master of Fine Art in Painting and Drawing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.  Shaw has been exhibited in numerous solo and group exhibitions such as Governors State University, Woman Made Gallery, Koehnline Museum of Art, North Shore Art League, 116 Gallery, Printworks Gallery, and Bridgeport Art Center.

Corey Postiglione was born and raised in Chicago and received his BFA in Studio Arts from the University of Illinois at Chicago and an MA in Art History and Critical Theory from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.  Postiglione has been exhibited in more than 20 solo exhibitions and numerous group shows such as at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Chicago Cultural Center, Printworks Gallery, The Beverly Arts Center, the Evanston Art Center, and Lake Forest College. His writing has been published in Artforum and The New Art Examiner.

Corey Postiglione and Kathie Shaw: Abstraction as Metaphor runs through June 20. The Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art (UIMA) is located at 2320 W. Chicago Ave. Gallery hours are Wednesday through Sunday 12 to 4pm. Closed Monday and Tuesday. Admission: Suggested donation is $5. For more info, you can call UIMA at 773-227-5522 or visit their website.

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Thomas Wawzenek
Thomas Wawzenek