Number 26, 1992
Canvas, rust and wood
120 x 168 x 6 inches
Private collection, New York
© John Berens
Number 28, 1992
Canvas and rust
132 x 156 x 256 inches
Marc and Livia Straus Family Collection
Number 104, 2005
Cast paper, graphite, paper, and rust
95 x 96 1/2 x 3 inches
Existed is a mid-career survey of the New York based artist, Leonardo Drew. This exhibition highlights Drew's career-long interest in the cyclical nature of creation, decay, and regeneration through a selection of large-scale sculptures, installations, and works on paper. Built from rows of stacked cotton and wooden boxes, stuffed with rags, covered with scavenged objects, and caked with rust to suggest degeneration, Drew's sculptural work is made to resemble the detritus of everyday life. The artist often ages his found and fabricated materials, employing a process that is physically and conceptually steeped in memory, history, and the passage of time. These disparate materials are often composed within a grid that organizes the chaos into an ordered structure. Deeply informed by the theory and practice of mid-twentieth-century abstraction, post-minimal and process art, Drew's emotionally-charged abstract compositions are evocative and carry both a metaphorical and historical weight. To encourage personal interpretation, Drew titles his works sequentially and explains that "the works in themselves should act as mirrors."
Spanning twenty years, Existed displays Drew's seminal piece, Number 8 assembled in 1988, through the monumental Number 123, that has been re-fashioned by the artist specifically for deCordova in the Grand Stairwell. While the show's title, Existed, refers to the past, its emphasis on a life lived invokes the present. It speaks of the profound human urge to leave a trace, to be remembered, to state "I was here." As such, it is an appeal against forgetting and for remembering, an attempt to write oneself into history. Existed considers Drew's interest in the cycles of life–birth, death, rebirth–that allows the past to be continually revealed through the present.
This exhibition has been organized by the Blaffer Gallery, The Art Museum of the University of Houston. Major funding has been provided in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, with additional support from the Eleanor and Frank Freed Foundation, the Harpo Foundation, the Linda Pace Foundation, The Fifth Floor Foundation, and Sikkema Jenkins & Co. Opening Reception sponsored by Welch & Forbes LLC.
Born in Tallahasee, Florida and raised in Bridgeport, CT, Drew currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York and San Antonio, Texas. Drew attended the Parsons School of Design and received a BFA from the Cooper Union in 1985. His work has been shown internationally, including at the Hirschhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington DC; the Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin; the Art Institute of Chicago; the Miami Art Museum; Tate Modern, London; and the St. Louis Art Museum.