Transformative landscapes: Leonardo Drew’s first solo show in Asia

Transformative landscapes: Leonardo Drew’s first solo show in Asia

A series of extraordinary abstract landscapes comprising scraps of wood, paper and steel screws have taken up residence on the walls of Pearl Lam’s eponymous Pedder Building gallery. The strangely beautiful and organic forms created largely from natural materials, are the work of American sculptor Leonardo Drew.

The Brooklyn-based artist draws heavily on his own personal history growing up in a public housing project where the local city landfill became his childhood playground, and where he first began experimenting with found materials to create highly textural pieces.

Fast forward 30 years and Drew is still playing, albeit now at a gigantic scale and where the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, collect his works. 

This exhibition, his first solo showing in Hong Kong, comprises ten new works made from wood, a mixed media work and works on paper. It also marks the first time colour features in his works. ‘The works are numbered, not given titles, so that the viewer can have their own experience,’ the artist explains.

Although working with natural materials is not new, it is Drew’s meticulous compression and layering of materials that sets his work apart. The intriguing result is achieved by painstakingly placing each piece by hand, layer by layer with some of his larger works taking five years to complete.

The artist also often subjects his materials to transformational processes. Here, Number 9C and Number 14C have been oxidised or burnt to look ‘fresh and weathered, abstractly signifying the various stages of life.’ He says, ‘I wish there were 34 hour days. I find the process of creating very important; it is like a meditation which is just as well otherwise I’d go crazy.’

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