Goodman Gallery presents recent and site-specific work by Leonardo Drew, an exhibition organised in close collaboration with Galerie Lelong & Co, marking Drew’s first solo show in the UK since 2015.
For this exhibition, the New-York based artist transforms the lower-ground of the gallery with a monumental site-specific installation. This piece, together with other works on view, span recurring motifs in Drew’s oeuvre – an intuitive approach to composition, materiality and the language of abstraction.
Drew is known for creating wall-based abstract sculptural works that play on a tension between order and chaos. The artist typically uses manipulated organic materials to create richly detailed works – seemingly bursting from the walls – which resemble densely populated cities or urban wastelands and evoke the mutability of the natural world. Materials include wood, cardboard, paint, paper, plastic, rope, string and tree trunks. The artist subjects these elements to processes of oxidation, burning and weathering. These labour-intense manipulations mimic natural processes and transform these objects into sculptures that address formal and social concerns as well as the cyclical nature of existence. Drew’s long-standing interest in lifecycles and how human labour leaves traces of life behind is an important aspect of the materiality of the work.
Exemplary works of Drew’s approach can be found in Number 314 and Number 325. These elongated silhouettes have the monumentality of a skyscraper, as well as the semblance of an ancient tablet. Made in Drew’s signature technique, featuring neatly stacked pieces of cut lumber in a dynamic, gridded sculptural relief, they are finished with a matte black wash with a white spinal column in the centre of each panel, which emphasizes vertical rhythm. The white element amidst the black is like a code or a written language – like Braille, a micro-text to decipher. But it is also like a macro view of a densely built city. Drew says: “I think of it as making chaos legible.”
Leonardo Drew (b. 1961, Tallahassee, Florida) grew up in Bridgeport, Connecticut and currently lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Drew’s works have been shown internationally and are included in public collections, such as Tate, London; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.
Drew currently has a solo exhibition at Zuckerman Museum of Art at Kennesaw State University, titled Leonardo Drew: Cycles. In September 2022, the artist’s work will feature in the Mercosul Biennal in Brazil.
Previous solo museum exhibitions include shows at the Mississippi Museum of Art, Jackson (2020); North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh (2020); de Young Museum, Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, California (2017); Palazzo Delle Papesse, Centro Arte Contemporanea, Siena, Italy (2006); and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C. (2000). Drew’s mid-career survey, Existed, premiered at the Blaffer Gallery at the University of Houston in 2009, and travelled to the Weatherspoon Art Museum in Greensboro, North Carolina, and the DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum in Lincoln, Massachusetts.
In 2019, Drew was commissioned for a new outdoor project for Madison Square Park, marking the Madison Square Park Conservancy’s 38th public commission and the artist’s first major public art project. The installation, titled City in the Grass, has since travelled to the North Carolina Museum of Art, Mississippi Museum of Art and The Wadsworth Atheneum.