March 20 – May 16, 2015
Celebrated for his full-scale installations and wall-mounted sculptures, Drew uses a variety of materials such as wood, iron, cotton, paper and mud to re-work in the building of new and lively forms. By manipulating the wood and other objects to weather and age them, Drew reminds the viewer of time’s passing and the natural processes of decay and regeneration. Although Drew’s work looks as though it were found in its present state, all of the sculptures reveal the artist’s craftsmanship in shaping, cutting, building and weathering his pieces. Instead of descriptive titles, Drew employs numbers to mark the sequence of his pieces, leaving the viewer free to bring different cultural and historical associations to the work.
Sculptures such as Number 175T present a combination of the cut and tightly fitted wood pieces for which Drew is known with the sprawling lines of natural root forms, represented in flat areas painted in white. These spaces create a visual play with the suggestion of negative space cutting through into the densely constructed sections of machine-cut wood. This pairing of natural and man-made lines produces a sense of tension and incredible energy within the sculptures, suggesting forces just contained or on the edge of breaking through. The physical spaces depicted within the work at times read as abstracted landscapes or rugged skylines, depending on the viewer’s perspective. In other pieces, Drew constructs a horizontal banner of folds and waves created from thousands of small, hand-cut wood pieces, fitted and glued together to create a seemingly undulating wall of suspended motion.
Born in Tallahassee, Florida, Drew grew up in Bridgeport, Connecticut, where he showed an early ability for drawing and had his first solo exhibition at the age of fourteen. After graduation from high school, Drew attended the Parsons School of Design in New York and later transferred to The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1985.
The artist’s sculpture has been shown in numerous solo exhibitions, including the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego; the St. Louis Art Museum; the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC; The Fabric Workshop, Philadelphia; Palazzo delle Papesse, Centro Arte Contemporanea, Siena; and Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York. In 2009, the Blaffer Gallery at The Art Museum of the University of Houston exhibited a mid-career survey exhibition entitled Existed: Leonardo Drew, which travelled to the Weatherspoon Art Museum in Greensboro, North Carolina, and to the DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park in Lincoln, Massachusetts.
In addition, Drew has participated in artist residency programs at ArtPace, San Antonio and The Studio Museum of Harlem in New York, among others. Drew’s artwork is included in major museum collections, including the Tate Modern; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the St Louis Art Museum, and the McNay Museum of Art, San Antonio. Last October, the artist was featured in the seventh season of PBS’ series, ART 21: Art in the 21st Century.