Critics’ Picks

  • View of “Exercises in interweaving time and places,” 2021. Photo: Bartosz Górka.

    View of “Exercises in interweaving time and places,” 2021. Photo: Bartosz Górka.

    Bydgoszcz

    Alicja Bielawska

    Galeria Miejska bwa w Bydgoszczy
    20 Gdańska St.
    February 16–April 24, 2021

    “Exercises in interweaving time and places,” Alicja Bielawska’s latest exhibition, features monochrome portieres, colorful crayon drawings, and ceramic objects sparsely arranged along the walls, some in vaguely clocklike configurations. Together, these works appear not so much as a unified installation as a group of figures searching for their rightful place within the gallery.  

    Bielawska, who trained as an art historian before studying visual arts at the Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam in the mid-2000s, has elicited comparisons to Sol LeWitt, though her environments rewire viewers’ perceptions through a more sensual, inviting poetry. Her curtains, made of delicate, semitransparent fabrics, play against slumped, floor-bound pupae made of fluffy checkered blankets and carpets. For Elements, 2020, a shallow stack of multicolored, hand-molded ceramic bricks hugs the right angle of a corner wall. The work suggests some kind of children’s wonderland, as well as the ultraprecise spatial compositions of Katarzyna Kobro, a key but overlooked figure of Poland’s prewar avant-garde, whose reflections on sculpture prompted Bielawska’s use of the word “exercises” in her title. Within Kobro’s Constructivist system, vertical lines correspond to visual impressions, while horizontals relate to the passage of time separating one visual impression from the next. “New sculpture does not make sculptures. It makes space,” she wrote in 1931. Bielawska responds to this challenge but places herself within traditions of craft, rather than taking on the role of artist-engineer. Gathering strands of memory and daily experience, she lets the viewer weave them into something whole.