From Meriem Bennani’s supernatural film at Renaissance Society to Devan Shimoyama’s transformative paintings and sculptures at Kavi Gupta, these are the must-see shows in Chicago.
26 March – 10 July
Theodora Allen’s Saturnine, now on view at the Driehaus Museum, is the artist’s first solo institutional survey in the US, following an earlier iteration at Kunsthal Aarhus, Denmark. Her impressive painting The Cosmic Garden I (2016) previews the symbolic, medieval illuminated manuscript-like qualities of many of the other works on view here: the cyanotype-like canvas presents a framed Saturn, imposing but not threatening, surrounded by blue-green plants sprouting from a windowpane. Sparse yet loaded with iconography, Allen’s paintings seem to fall within the spiritual lineage that encompasses William Blake and Hilma af Klint. In a triptych titled Syzygy (Narcissus) (2021), square comets streak across a stellar background, their comas containing the imagery found in other Allen paintings: hands holding insects, flowers sprouting on riverbanks. The works look stunning in the context of the Driehaus’s Gilded Age ornamentation, which accentuates their uncanny timelessness and quietly luminous qualities.