We are talking abstraction - its beginnings are in the Continent, the Motherland. Having this come back around, introducing what I do as an abstractionist and going back to Africa and [abstraction’s] roots, it’s perfect
Goodman Gallery is pleased to present the first solo exhibition on the African continent for American Abstractionist Leonardo Drew, presenting a major site-specific work as well as a new series of wall-based sculptures. The exhibition is organised in close collaboration with Galerie Lelong & Co.
Over the past three decades, Drew has honed a distinctive abstract language articulated through weathering raw materials (wood, scrap metal, cotton) to produce richly textured works that play on a tension between order and chaos. His surfaces approach a language of their own, embodying the laboured process of writing oneself into history. Drew’s practice builds on the lineage of abstraction, which was established and reworked by artists Melvin Edwards, Sam Gilliam, Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock and William T. Williams.
Drew’s studio-based practice - which he describes as “becoming the weather” - acts out the passing of time, visually echoing natural forces through scrapping, digging, burning, and rusting to create gravity-defying, wall-based cosmologies:
“There is definitely an alchemy that is involved at all levels. Because when I am rusting and burning things, I am using the weather and I am learning how to become the weather. There is never a time when there is not a natural force that I am either using or echoing” For Drew, the viewer completes his work and brings it to life. This informs the decision to number his works and avoid titles which inevitably confer meaning:
“I am always in one way or another learning from the viewer. They are complicit in finishing the work. If I gave my works titles, then you would be clued in on what I am thinking about. A number is like cataloguing and that’s it”
Leonardo Drew (b. 1961, Tallahassee, Florida) is a New York-based artist who, over three decades, has become known for creating contemplative abstract sculptural works. Drew currently has solo exhibitions in the UK and the US with new site-specific installations at Yorkshire Sculpture Park and the Amon Carter Museum of American Art. Solo museum exhibitions include the Zuckerman Museum of Art at Kennesaw State University (2022); 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, the Mississippi Museum of Art and The Wadsworth Atheneum.
Drew’s works are included in public collections around the world, including Tate, London; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C., and Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, MD.
Leonardo Drew is represented by Galerie Lelong & Co., Anthony Meier Gallery and Goodman Gallery.