Icons, pallets, Mars melons & planets: The artistic wonderland of Alicja Kwade
Clocks, mirrors and stones are just some of the requisites with which Alicja Kwade decorates her ‘magnum theatrum’. Although her work was already considered an insider tip both during and after her studies at the Berlin University of the Arts, it was the Piepenbrock Prize for Sculpture, which she was awarded in 2008, that really gave her the opportunity to present her sensational creations to the wider public, including the art critics. The 29-year-old laureate’s solo exhibition, which was part of the prize, was held from 20 June to 24 August 2008 in the Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart in Berlin and captivated both the general public and the art world alike. Suddenly, from workroom 15, which was almost 1,300 square meters in size, there emerged an artist who had a really simple way of tackling subjects relating to the infinite validity of obligatory systems, structures and values that the audience could get to grips with straight away. Her exhibition entitled “Von Explosionen zu Ikonen” [“From explosions to icons”] showed how relative the world, its material and immaterial things are: a diamond cut transforms everyday stones found on the street into “kerbstone jewels”; time continues to pass even though the faces of the clocks are covered in a metal coating; an innocuous wooden pallet looks like an antique jewellery piece once restored with a fine brown stain; ground glass bottles of an up-market champagne brand create a nostalgic little green hill; and gilded briquettes mutate into expensive gold bars. And the up-and-coming and yet astonishingly mature sculptor demonstrated yet one more thing at the time - that she can also take a room with a difficult layout flanked by distracting columns and design and use it appropriately.