On view this month, and just in time for the proceedings of FIAC, kamel mennour gallery opens a show of new work by artist Alicja Kwade, underscoring the artist’s continued exploration of time, space, chemistry, geology and biology. Through a range of sculptures, hanging works and floor installations, the artist explores the materials of physical reality, oftentimes seeking to use each one as a way to look beyond the whole.
Time, space and the concept of reality are inseparably linked in Kwade’s work, and her work has often used its physical arrangement in space as a facet of a more complex relationship to time and the body. Alchemical in vision, her constitutive components offer the eye is a physical reality in its own right, a process of transmutation that steers clear of the mythical, and instead lands squarely on the shoulders of a scientific delving into the nature, or rather, the atomic composition of her subjects. In a number of works, the artist arranges a series a series of horns (or funnels) in concrete blocks, creating subtle alterations of her materials in pursuit of a surreal final result. Yet the works remain traceable in their composition, rather than appearing as some truly otherworldly object, and the past contexts of her materials always remain clearly in view. Alongside these works are a series of small bottle sculptures, a motif that brings to mind past works in which the artist presented vials containing the constitutive elements of human chemistry. Again, Kwade’s work seems to work by allusion, calling back to these elemental forms in both a history of science and one of her own work.
Abstraction definitely plays a factor here, yet it’s more of a granular one, of rearranging atoms and reconstituting the materials to create new forms. Poetic in nature, the pieces walk a line between the natural world and the world of the human hand, a tension which Kwade seems quite content to continue.
The artist’s work is on view through November 27th.
– D. Creahan
Alicja Kwade [Exhibition Site]