Environmental Hopes and Fears: Art by Kate Shaw

A painting by Kate ShawFjallkonen (mountain woman), acrylic and resin on board

Kate Shaw is an Australian artist who uses innovative techniques to create intensely colorful abstract landscapes that explore our environmental hopes and fears. Using acrylic paint along with various mixed media, Shaw’s works have a unique, otherworldly texture.


A painting made by cutting sections of dried acrylicAphrodite (Mururoa: France), acrylic and resin on board

Shaw’s process reminds me a little of the way Helen Frankenthaler was known to paint – by pouring large pools of paint directly onto a canvas and letting them build forms by natural distribution. While Frankenthaler used diluted oils and pigments, Shaw uses acrylic paint, allowing the pools of paint to dry before cutting and rearranging them into beautiful landscapes that look straight out of a science fiction magazine.


Many of Shaw’s recent works take on the appearance of mountainous landscapes, with rocky peaks rising above still bodies of water. The central horizon cut creates a distinction between two halves of the painting, one of which becomes a reflection. Shaw’s bright, swirling colors are inviting, like candy, but also suggesting dangerous chemicals and pollution.


A triptych of colorful abstract mountainsFjord, 3 panels, acrylic and resin on board

Written by: Dallas Jeffs
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