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STRUCTURE as a framework upon which to build and explore a range of associations emerges as the characteristic shared by Endi Poskovic's works on paper and Vladimir Misha Tomic's paintings. They are on view through Oct. 19 in the Adams Art Gallery, 600 Central Ave., Dunkirk.

Poskovic deploys invented architectural images, symmetrical and patterned, as the locus for observations about power structures, prejudice and religious strife. Tomic creates abstract relief paintings with acrylic and sand occasionally interspersed with representational images.

Most often structured geometrically and employing soft, subtle colors, Tomic's paintings call to mind game boards, patterned rugs, tiled patios and even circuit boards. One of his three large paintings in the main gallery, "Folk Document," shows an essentially additive process of composition. Contemporary "hieroglyphic" symbols in sand join a conglomeration of rectangles, some striped and some textured, to form a flat, crowded field.

Another large painting, "Puzzle," exhibits Tomic's other favorite compositional strategy: a rectangle within a rectangle. The central rectangle consists of smaller, variously shaped grids of textured sand in subtle shades of gray. It is surrounded by dark brown grids on a beige background, and like most works in the show, the carved and painted wooden frame echoes the painting's image.

Tomic also makes many small pieces. Some are quick studies, small shaped pieces with only a few simple forms. Sometimes we see fields loosely populated with organic shapes. The best ones, such as "Far," possess a cryptic grace and intimacy reminiscent of Paul Klee.

Within the format Poskovic establishes for himself (all are about 14 by 10 inches with a centrally placed image on a colored background), the forms are handled with an inventive playfulness that belies the suggestion of serious content that often appears in notes penciled in the margins. In some cases, the shapes are overprinted with polka dots of various sizes. "Burnham Targetus Protecticus" with its turquoise blue image, bright orange background appears positively festive.

The invented forms are rendered in either isometric or three-point perspective seen from above to give them a monumental presence. Often drawn with dark, bold outlines to enhance their strength, they are based on various religious and other structures such as the Turbe, a form of Muslim temple built in Bosnia, or the Haghbat, a Christian church built in Armenia in the seventh century. Thus they refer indirectly to religious strife or bigotry, especially in, but not limited to, Poskovic's home country of Bosnia. One shape is based on a country barn and offers a mildly humorous critique of the Ku Klux Klan. Poskovic's choice of pseudo-Latin titles, such as "Americus Stabilicus Publicus Protecticus," also gives them a lighthearted, witty sensibility.

Even though the marginal comments are sometimes phrased as notes to himself, the pieces appear to be finished works of art as opposed to pages taken out of a sketchbook. It's as if he wants you to be aware that there is an underlying serious content, but he doesn't want it to prevent him from enjoying the pleasures of formal elaboration.

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