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.

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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