SAN FRANCISCO, CA - Eleven new etchings by New York sculptor Leonardo Drew are on view in the gallery at Crown Point Press during the month of February. Drew created the work for this exhibition in a two-week period last summer, working with printers in the etching studio on the Crown Point premises. The exhibition is accompanied by a video (also available online) showing the artist developing the plates in the studio and speaking about his art.
Two of the etchings are very large, with dimensions approximately three by four feet. All these new works have extremely rich and varied surfaces, taking advantage of the physicality inherent in the etching process. Striking blues or deep blacks dominate, but two of the smaller images are, by contrast, printed in graphite using the subtle layered technique called chine colle. Drew worked in the Crown Point studio experimentally, manipulating materials to develop surprising textures.
The tactility of Drew's etchings will not surprise those who know his sculpture. It can fill entire walls--or entire rooms--with materials seemingly abandoned, then found and handled. Wooden slats, weathered scraps of metal, tree limbs, discarded toys: in his studio, Drew assembles and alters great quantities of such material. He sometimes adds rust, or paint, or other treatments, and (often, but not always) organizes his material into grids. There is "a certain junkyard aesthetic" writes Claudia Schmuckli, director of the Blaffer Gallery, University of Houston, in the 2009 catalog for a Drew retrospective, "and at the same time great delicacy and elegance."
Drew was born in 1961 in Florida, and grew up in Bridgeport, Connecticut, where he lived in sight of the city dump. As a youth, he says, he rearranged objects in the dump, and spent a lot of time drawing. He had his first exhibition at the age of sixteen at the Bridgeport Public Library, and graduated with a B.F.A. in Fine Arts from Cooper Union in New York in 1985.
As a practicing artist living in New York he is represented by Sikkema Jenkins & Co. He has had solo shows at the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego; the Madison Art Center, Wisconsin; and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington DC. His work is in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, among other institutions.