Talley Dunn Gallery
January 28 – April 1, 2023
Talley Dunn Gallery is pleased to announce New Works a solo exhibition of Leonardo Drew’s most recent experiments with wall-mounted sculpture. Being shown for the first time as the subject of a single exhibition, these maquette-like, mixed media works are a new compositional format for Drew in scale and construction. Frequently working in a monumental scale, Drew has returned to the gallery with a resoundingly captivating body of work that is much more intimate and epigrammatic. These works, while compressed in size when compared to Drew’s large-scale installations, are altogether mesmerizing, seemingly containing thousands of undulating handmade components intricately interconnected in cohesive and immersive wholes. The artist imbues his works with a frenetic life force, unabashedly encompassing the broken and worn through splendor and zeal. Leonardo Drew’s artworks assiduously invite the viewer into quiet and individual meditation with abounding personal and political resonances.
Taking inspiration both from his childhood experiences and the likes of Piet Mondrian, Leonardo Drew has utilized the form of the grid as a basis for his compositions throughout his career. In the formal qualities of the grid, the artist evokes the repetitive, compact visual symmetry of housing projects from his upbringing in addition to art historical allusions to minimalism. The works on view represent an evolution from this method—this body of work forgoes structural ties to the grid and showcases the ways in which the artist’s creative freedom finds new forms from working on paper with lightweight materials.
Where Mondrian conceptualized within the square grid using line and color, Drew’s most recent sculptures weave, build, and meld both organic and inorganic materials from within the square’s even form into distinct lyrical compositions. Within these thirty-six by thirty-six-inch parameters, the artist has meticulously constructed dynamic projecting surfaces using signature materials from the artist’s long-established vocabulary with wood and cotton as well as materials with new significance such as plaster and paint. Inspired by trips to Jingdezhen, China’s historic center of porcelain production since as early as the sixth century, Drew made an electrifying turn towards color in the years before the start of the pandemic. Drew’s vibrant compositions of plaster and paint pay homage to the shards and fragments found along the streets of the southern Chinese city. In these ways, Leonardo Drew’s sculptures are full of an energetic spirit and dynamism that is as deeply personal as it is generous as he extends an open invitation to the viewer to revel in all of life’s complexity and beauty.
Leonard Drew (b. Tallahassee, Florida, 1961) attended the Parsons School of Design and received his BFA from Cooper Union. Drew creates arresting sculpture, building works up in an additive process from materials whose formal qualities imply prior histories: charred wood, tarnished metals, and bits of cloth and string. His post-minimal installations transform these seemingly inconsequential fragments of material life into powerful abstract forms.
Many institutions have showcased Drew’s sculpture in solo exhibitions, including the Madison Square Park Art Conservancy, New York (forthcoming); Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville; the De Young Museum, San Francisco; VIGO, London; Galleria Napolinobilissima, Naples; the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington DC; the Bronx Museum of the Arts, New York; and the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego. His work is represented in many prestigious collections including that of the Brooklyn Museum; the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the Miami Art Museum; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Sorigue Foundation Collection, Lérida, Spain; the St. Louis Art Museum; and Tate, London.