Chris Cosnowski: Morality Play

Opening: Friday, Sep 8, 2023 5:30 – 8 pm
Friday, Sep 8 – Oct 28, 2023

864 N. Ashland Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

ENGAGE Projects is excited to announce our first solo exhibition by Chris Cosnowski, Morality Play. Cosnowski takes his hard-edged hyperrealism to another level using allegory, historical reference, and mass-produced objects to question today’s guidelines for moral development. Pairing real objects together to recreate symbols of nationalist ideologies, religious influences, and social constructs, Cosnowski dismantles propaganda simply by asking questions with paint. The title Morality Play references Cosnowski’s light-hearted representations of cultural objects that elucidate just how fragile, yet persistently ubiquitous these ideas can be. 

Cosnowski’s work is made for the keen art historical eye as well as the popular culture connoisseur; his paintings are filled with metaphorical easter eggs including influence from the formal expertise of Giorgio Morandi’s ceramic vessel paintings and the allegorical mastery of Giorgio de Chirico’s work. Cosnowski utilizes gradient pastel backgrounds and shiny objects such as trophies to illustrate the glossing-over of contradictions often hidden within systems that institutionalize behavior. Adhering tightly to his style of realism, he even paints his own reflection in the sheen of plastic gold trophies and other reflective objects, ultimately reminding the viewer of the artist’s hand in the work despite its photorealistic qualities. 

Chris Cosnowski is an artist and educator living and working in Chicago. He received his B.F.A. from the Columbus College of Art and Design in 1992 and his M.F.A. from Northwestern University in 2000. He has been teaching at the American Academy of Art since 2003. He has exhibited his artwork extensively throughout the United States as well as London. In 2013, he had a 10-year retrospective at the South Shore Arts Association in Munster, IN. His work has been reviewed
in numerous publications including The Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun Times, The New Art Examiner and the New York Observer. Publications include Manifest Gallery’s International Painting Annual 4 and twice being featured on the cover of New American Paintings in 2001 and 2014.
He received a finalist award from the Illinois Arts Council in 2001. In 2017, he was awarded a commission to design artwork for the Blue Line Montrose Station by the Chicago Transit Authority which was installed in May, 2020. When he is not making art or teaching, Mr. Cosnowski tries to find time to travel with his wife Allison. He also likes hanging out with his two cats, Toaster and Pippa and playing classical guitar. 

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