This month in New York, 303 Gallery has tapped artist Alicja Kwade for its final show of 2023, and the artist”s third exhibition with the gallery. This latest exhibition of new works features a large-scale, immersive installation, sculptures, and wall works, as well as a series of suspended and standing mobiles that are being presented outside of Europe for the first time. This will also be the artist’s first exhibition in New York since her celebrated 2019 commission for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Roof Garden. The exhibition’s title, Petrichor, refers to the distinctive earthy scent that briefly lingers after rainfall on parched soil, an ethereal implication of a past event.
Incorporating concepts drawn from philosophy, mathematics, and science, Kwade’s work is known for creating lyrical arrangements of familiar objects and natural materials to elicit similarly intangible phenomena and transitory atmospheres. Here, she continues that mode of work, with environmental structures built in manners that seem to defy classification while remaining strangely familiar. Several mobiles of varying scales float overhead and arise from the floor, their delicate armatures belying the weight they bear. Constellations of natural stones act as symbolic depictions of orbiting planets or particles held in place by unseen forces made visible.
Kwade embraces an alchemical approach to her work, transmuting her chosen elements to create these densely layered, yet elegant arrangements. At the center of the exhibition lies a new large-scale installation: a replica of a room in the artist’s home constructed of transparent glass brick, creating a limbo space within the gallery for visitors to pass through and observe. Inside, viewers encounter Stella Sella (2022), a bronze cast of a wooden rocking chair bearing a boulder of equal scale. In this scenario, the encumbered chair could be a surrogate for a person, a poignant depiction of anxious anticipation. Looking outward at the numerous mobiles surrounding the ghostly structure produces a sense of foreboding, throwing the delicate tension between glass and stone into sharp relief.
Kwade also presents the latest evolution of her works on cardboard, a series of compositions titled Schusslöcher. Each image is comprised of 8,760 watch hands, one year measured in hours. Viewed in sequence, they depict a descent from chronological order into chaos as the organizational logic of an unfurling timeline is overwritten to suggest bullet holes and their outward rippling impact pattern. Evocative of the natural tendency of systems towards entropy, the works speak to a subjective experience of time, defined by events of magnitude and unpredictability.
Taking a practice that wends its way between natural engagement and mystical transcendence, the artist’s work is on view through December 17th.
– D. Creahan
Alicja Kwade at 303 [Exhibition Site]