Leonardo Drew’s artwork is brutally beautiful. The New York-based artist, primarily known for his wall-mounted sculptural installations, is currently exhibiting his work at London’s Vigo gallery.
Using a mix of found, natural, and manmade materials, Drew’s pieces are structurally sophisticated while also expressing a raw awareness of nature. The works are constructed with manipulated materials like fabricated wood, sheet metal, tree branches, roots, paper, raw cotton, rust, found objects and mud.
Drew uses his work to express the cyclical nature of existence, both on a human and natural level. The works on view at Vigo gallery are abstract explorations of the concept of grid structures. He manipulates the objects into pulsing, jagged landscapes that try mercilessly to break free from their constraints. This theme dates back to Drew’s childhood memories of growing up in housing projects in Bridgeport, Connecticut.
Upon entering the gallery, the sculpture (Number 135L) welcomes you into a world where elements transcend themselves. Wood is meticulously constructed into an ebbing wave that allows the viewer to immediately be reminded of the calming rise and fall of the ocean.
In contrast, the sculpture placed in the interior of the gallery (Number 138L) is a stark antagonist to the works at the entrance. Charred black wood violently juts at the viewer from the wall. The materials begin in an ordered grid at the bottom of the work and become more disjointed as your eyes move upwards. Branches twist together, while sharpened wood pegs erupt upwards in a total loss of control.
Drew was originally born in Florida and relocated to the east coast during his early childhood. He was inspired by his urban surroundings and a nearby landfill to create artwork that challenged the concept of what’s comfortable. His natural talent was quickly identified by his professors at Cooper Union and he went on to attend the Parsons School of Design. He has since shown in established institutions like The Hirschhorn Museum, the Royal Hibernian Academy in Dublin, and The Art Institute of Chicago. Drew’s work is also included in the permanent collections of the TATE, MoMA, the MET, Brooklyn Museum, and prestigious private collections like the Rubell’s.
The current exhibition will be on view at the Vigo Gallery through November 13th.