Artist Leonardo Drew in his Brooklyn studio.

 

WORKING IN HIS UNIQUE STUDIO SPACE in Cypress Hills, Brooklyn, artist Leonardo Drew simultaneously produced work for two projects.

He fabricated “City in the Grass,” which features a trio of towers rising from an abstracted cityscape grounded by a massive surface resembling a topographically patterned carpet. His first outdoor public art work, the imaginative urban experience opened last week in Madison Square Park. Drew also made new sculptural works for “Leonardo Drew,” an exhibition now on view at Galerie Lelong in Chelsea, including a suite of wall sculptures and “Number 215,” a powerful wood installation that dominates an entire section of the gallery.

Drew makes abstract sculptures and installations realized through an accumulation of material. The additive works make grand, dramatic gestures that are balanced by intricate, ordered details. He usually works with wood, at times employing other materials such as metal and shards of ceramic. The materials are often manipulated through burning, weathering, oxidation, or painting.

While composition and form are central concerns, the works are also symbolic, referencing decay, erosion, and detritus—the arc of time, cycle of nature, and journey of life.

 


Installation view, LEONARDO DREW, “Number 215,” 2019 (wood, paint, and sand)., Galerie Lelong & Co., New York, N.Y., 2019. | Courtesy Galerie Lelong & Co.

 

LAST YEAR, DESIGN EDITOR Wendy Goodman visited Drew in his studio for New York magazine and featured his live/work space in an “Interior Lives” video. A garage door fronts the building, which is wedged between two townhouses. He estimates the walls rise about 30 feet high. The vertical studio space is similar to his work—bursting with an overwhelming about of material, yet well-thought out and organized. He uses the extended height for storage, installing works-in-progress and remnants of old works from floor-to-ceiling. Around the studio, material and sculptures that show up in the current gallery exhibition and park installation can be seen.

Drew lives above his studio. “This is a perfect situation,” he says in the video. “I need to live with my work. I need to have access to it 24/7. You have a thought and you want to realize. It you want to be able to go downstairs and get it done.”

“This is a perfect situation. I need to live with my work. I need to have access to it 24/7. You have a thought and you want to realize it you want to be able to go downstairs and get it done.” — Leonardo Drew


LEONARDO DREW, “Number 217,” 2019 (wood, plaster and paint, 144 x 144 x 36 inches / 365.8 x 365.8 x 91.4 cm). | © Leonardo Drew, Courtesy Galerie Lelong & Co.

 

BORN IN TALLAHASSEE, Fla., Drew grew up in Bridgeport, Conn. He attended the Parsons School of Design and received his BFA from the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York City. He has exhibited widely and is represented in public and private collections.

It’s been a busy year for Drew. The video appeared in May 2018. About six months later, in November, Madison Square Park Conservancy announced it had commissioned Drew to make an ambitious public art work. In March, Drew joined Galerie Lelong. He was previously represented by Sikkema Jenkins gallery. His first-ever solo exhibition with Galerie Lelong opened May 16 and the Madison Square Park installation debuted June 3.

For his latest projects he embraced a spectrum of color, a recent development in his practice that began to appear in 2016 when he presented new works at Sikkema Jenkins. Drew had mostly focused on black, white, and the natural hue of his materials in earlier work.

He has also introduced a new material: sand. The artist used sand and paint to create the patterned “carpet” in the park installation. Wood fragments with the same multi-colored panorama as the carpet are featured in “Number 215,” the large-scale installation at Galerie Lelong. The gallery describes it as “an energetic wood installation that is both sweeping in scale and intimate in detail, creating the appearance of an enveloping explosion that is frozen in time and space.”

 


Leonardo Drew installing “City in the Grass,” 2019, Commissioned by Madison Square Park Conservancy. | Photo by Hunter Canning, Courtesy Madison Square Park Conservancy

 


LEONARDO DREW, Installation view of “City in the Grass,” 2019 (aluminum, sand, wood, cotton and mastic, 102 x 32 feet), Madison Square Park, New York. | Collection of the artist, courtesy Talley Dunn Gallery, Galerie Lelong and Anthony Meier Fine Arts. Photo by Hunter Canning, Courtesy Madison Square Park Conservancy

 

INSTALLED ON THE OVAL LAWN of Madison Square Park, “City in the Grass” is more than 100 feet long. In a statement, Brooke Kamin Rapaport, deputy director and senior curator of Madison Square Park Conservancy, explained the concept.

“In this teeming urban space, Leonardo Drew’s goal has been to bring people close in to his work, to study the swells and folds of his cityscape, and to locate a personal place within the purposeful voids in the work,” she said. “This is a symbolic and literal multilayered project. The artist builds layer on layer of materials while using the metaphor of a torn carpet as a complicated reference to home, comfort, and sanctuary.”

“Leonardo Drew’s goal has been to bring people close in to his work, to study the swells and folds of his cityscape, and to locate a personal place within the purposeful voids in the work. …The artist builds layer on layer of materials while using the metaphor of a torn carpet as a complicated reference to home, comfort, and sanctuary.” — Curator Brooke Kamin Rapaport

When Drew envisioned “City in the Grass,” he did so with a hands-on policy in mind. The artist encourages people to engage with the installation. He wants it to be welcoming, to be touched, and walked upon.

“I would love it to take abuse because my work really is about a weathered history of our journey on this planet—the cycle of birth, life, death and regeneration,” Drew told The New York Times. “The piece is going to find itself in a whole other level of loveliness if it’s allowed to live.” CT

 

The installation of “City in the Grass” in Madison Square Park is scheduled June 3-Dec. 15, 2019. “Leonardo Drew” is on view at Galerie Lelong, May 16-Aug. 2, 2019. Also currently being presented in New York City, works by Leonardo Drew are featured in “Sculptor’s Prints” at Pace Prints (June 7-Aug. 2, 2019).

 

TOP IMAGE: In his studio, Leonardo Drew at work on “City in the Grass,” Commissioned by Madison Square Park Conservancy. | Photo by Hunter Canning, Courtesy Madison Square Park Conservancy

 

FIND MORE about Leonardo Drew on his website

 

BOOKSHELF
“Leonardo Drew: Journal” accompanied the artist’s exhibition at the Contemporary Art Museum, Raleigh. Other publications include “Leonardo Drew,” with an essay by Hilton Als, “Leonardo Drew,” with a contribution from Valerie Cassel, “Existed: Leonardo Drew,” which was published to document his traveling survey (2009). In “May I Come In?: Discovering the World in Other People’s Houses,” Wendy Goodman explores the homes of more than 75 people.

 


After the advertisement, design editor Wendy Goodman visits artist Leonardo Drew in Cypress Hills, Brooklyn, where he divided a building into a studio space and residential quarters. | Video by The Cut/New York magazine

 
In the Studio


In his studio, Leonardo Drew at work on “City in the Grass,” 2019, Commissioned by Madison Square Park Conservancy. | Photo by Hunter Canning, Courtesy Madison Square Park Conservancy

 


Leonardo Drew’s Brooklyn studio, including elements of “City in the Grass,” 2019, Commissioned by Madison Square Park Conservancy. | Photo by Hunter Canning, Courtesy Madison Square Park Conservancy

 


In his studio, Leonardo Drew at work on “City in the Grass,” 2019, Commissioned by Madison Square Park Conservancy. | Photo by Hunter Canning, Courtesy Madison Square Park Conservancy

 


Studio view, Detail of Leonardo Drew’s “City in the Grass,” 2019, Commissioned by Madison Square Park Conservancy. | Photo Credit by Hunter Canning, Courtesy Madison Square Park Conservancy

 
In the Park


LEONARDO DREW, Installation view of “City in the Grass,” 2019 (aluminum, sand, wood, cotton and mastic, 102 x 32 feet), Madison Square Park, New York. | Collection of the artist, courtesy Talley Dunn Gallery, Galerie Lelong and Anthony Meier Fine Arts. Photo by Hunter Canning, Courtesy Madison Square Park Conservancy

 


Installation in process of “Leonardo Drew: City in the Grass” (detail), June 3-Dec. 15, 2019, Oval Lawn, Madison Square Park, New York, N.Y. Commissioned by Madison Square Park Conservancy. | Photo by Hunter Canning, Courtesy Madison Square Park Conservancy

 


Installation view of “Leonardo Drew: City in the Grass,” June 3-Dec. 15, 2019, Oval Lawn, Madison Square Park, New York, N.Y. Commissioned by Madison Square Park Conservancy. | Photo by Hunter Canning, Courtesy Madison Square Park Conservancy

 
In the Gallery


LEONARDO DREW, “Number 212,” 2018 (wood and paint, 125 x 132 x 56 inches / 317.5 x 335.3 x 142.2 cm). | © Leonardo Drew, Courtesy Galerie Lelong & Co.

 


LEONARDO DREW, Detail of “Number 215,” 2019 (wood, paint, and sand, Dimensions Variable). | © Leonardo Drew, Courtesy Galerie Lelong

 


Installation view, “Leonardo Drew,” Galerie Lelong & Co., New York, N.Y., 2019

 

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