Red Hot: Interview With Rising Star Alicja Kwade

My latest interview was rather serendipitous. I had interviewed Martin Kwade of KWADRAT a few months ago and recently reviewed the Timo Klöppel show at his gallery. I had also just detailed the history of Berlin gallerist Johann König and his rise to power. What do these two gallerists have in common? The answer is one artist slowly on the rise to art world stardom: Alicja Kwade. The sister of Martin Kwade and an artist represented by König, this busy sculptor of both art and ideas is showing all over the world and has both art critics and curators knocking at her door. I had the pleasure of visiting Kwade at her studio in Kruezberg, where I investigated the fascinating practice that informs her work.

A Beautiful Atelier

Like most artists of her stature, Kwade has turned a large loft space into an jaw-dropping studio space. Complete with two rooms, enough knick-knacks to fill a museum and a collection of antique clocks, her atelier feels less like a working space and more like a storage space for a peculiar colletor. In the main entryway is a current work in progress composed of several different large, curved objects encircling each other in the formation of a hurricane. The materials here vary––copper, various metals and a meticulously crafted wooden door curving in on itself. Before entering this space I had only experienced some of her smaller sculptures, so to see her innovative concepts get translated on such a massive scale was extremely enjoyable.

Her collection of clocks that inspire her investigations into the definitions of time. Photo: Chris Phillips

In the second room of her studio, I felt like I was entering a house of mirrors at a local fair. Varying in unique shapes and sizes each mirror is curved in a manner similar to Dali’s famed surrealist clocks. I approached them and immediately had a sense of vertigo, so I can only imagine what it’s like for the artist and her many studio assistants who are surrounded by them daily. What likely sticks out to most visitors in her working space, however, is a wall covered with seemingly hundreds of pictures and notes for future projects. Some detail the pureness of copper, others portray enclaves getting filled with sludge. Seeing these clippings only beg one to question how they relate to her work.

The fun house mirrors that align Kwade's ​studio walls. Photo: Chris Phillips

Between the myriad phone calls that she received while I visited her studio, I managed to sneak in a few questions to learn more about the artist herself.

BAPs: You've been based in Berlin for awhile now, any favorites venues?

AK: Hamburger Bahnhof, Neue Nationalgalerie, Pergamon Museum.

BAPs:  Which movies would you recommend that relate to your practice?

AK: Inception, Melancholia, The Lost Weekend.

BAPs: Best place to get the your vintage collection of stuff?

AK: ebay.com!

The majority of Kwade's sculptures relate to ideas surrounding the validity of unnatural measurements such as the price of gold or time. This explains her fetishizations of the minerals and obsessive collection of clocks. She brings up the incredulity of giving an anonymous elite the power to set abstract principles for a tacit populace. I’m immediately recalled to her piece at Kunst-Werke’s group show "One to One" where she installed a broken clock whose background rotated in a similar matter to its hands. These seem like grotesquely expansive topics for one person to try and tackle with art, however knowing the Kwades, Alicja is the right person for the job.

Article by James Shaeffer