Leonardo Drew’s Undulating Wood Sculptures Question the Natural

It was his superior draftsmanship that led Leonardo Drew into a career as an artist. Surprisingly, his ability in two dimensions laid the foundation for his prolific sculptural practice. His new large-scale works, currently on view at London’s  Vigo Gallery, demonstrate his facility with material and his ongoing explorations into existential and environmental concerns. 

  • Installation view of Leonardo Drew at Vigo Gallery. Image courtesy of Vigo Gallery.

Through his work, Drew manages to erase distinctions between the organic and the man-made, as he transforms natural materials into undulating curtain-like forms and explosive wall-mounted sculptures. All of the works on view here consist of meticulous, often repetitive arrangements of small pieces of wood—rods, chunks, blocks, chips—some painted black, some left natural. Drew creates a sense of order from massive amounts of disparate, differing parts, a reflection of the way that man attempts to make sense of nature, analyzing shape, proportion, color. However, central to Drew’s sculptural process is a gesture of deception: his source material is altered to appear weathered and tarnished, to resemble naturally occurring characteristics.

138L (2015), painted coal black, is breathtaking for its craftsmanship and three-dimensional presence. With linear borders and an ordered structure, it brings to mind the aerial view of a crowded, developing city, packed with residential housing and high-rise skyscrapers; it could be seen as an ode to New York, where the artist currently resides. One senses a social motivation behind the works, or perhaps the attempt to materialize a memory. 

In 137L (2015), Drew takes on a motif that he has explored in past works: white roots that seem to erupt under a black ground, sprouting from a silvery trunk, recalling a tree, or even a riot of lightning. Drew’s methods of ordering and processing the world around him results in works that are visually therapeutic, conceptually challenging, and well worth a visit to the Mayfair gallery.

—Jeppe Ugelvig

Leonardo Drew” is on view at Vigo Gallery, London, Oct. 9–Nov. 13, 2015.

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