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Brash World View, a Fair Play and Modest Constructs, Peter Plagens, Wall Street Journal

June 17, 2016

Alicja Kwade’s ‘But the Same (fig. III)’ (2016) at 303 Gallery.

Alicja Kwade’s ‘But the Same (fig. III)’ (2016) at 303 Gallery.

Alicja Kwade: I Rise Again, Changed but the Same
303 Gallery
555 W. 21st St., (212) 255-1121
Through June 30


Alicja Kwade, an artist born in Poland in 1979 who works in Berlin, has been strongly influenced by the contemporary philosopher Graham Harman. Mr. Harman rejects most philosophers’ musings about nature as vainly anthropocentric because they inevitably put human thought, if not human beings, above everything else. He has said these philosophers mistakenly think that “raindrops know nothing and lizards know very little.”


Ms. Kwade injects an implied animism into her abstract sculptures—which are of a modified constructivist variety—by way of big mirrored, metal-framed glass planes that “double” the objects—wooden steps, bronze tubing, steel beams, rocks—placed against them. She calls them “paravents.” Although the neologism and the Harman doctrine add an interesting, if not entirely convincing, intellectual context to Ms. Kwade’s sculptures, they can just as easily be appreciated simply for their austerely lyrical looks.