Critics’ Picks

Leonardo Drew, Number 211, 2019, wood, paint, 86 x 58 x 29".

New York

Leonardo Drew

Galerie Lelong & Co., New York
528 West 26th Street
May 16–August 2, 2019

Leonardo Drew’s wooden assemblages inspire a distinctly energetic choreography. Employing the minute and the monumental as coconspirators in his visual schema, Drew facilitates an unanchored viewing experience wherein the breadth of each work is slowly revealed through explorations near, far, and even inside the object-environments he creates. In turn, the works themselves shift, from painting, to sculpture, to immersive installation, perpetually observed in transition.

Drew’s pieces are roughly divided into two galleries, the smaller of which houses a series of sculpted reliefs, each coated in black paint. In Number 212, 2018, cut lumber, stacked together puzzle-like into dizzying planes of knobs and slits, serves as the structural basis for a collection of large branches propelling out from the wall into the gallery space. Due to the sharp distinction the artist constructs between low and high relief, Number 212 appears topographical, illustrating, perhaps, a cluster of colossal trees and the urban sprawl in which they are subsumed. Number 211, 2019, features a less dramatic crescendo, its wooden fragments and branches arranged relatively level, slowly and circuitously approaching their apex. Despite the particular undulations of each, however, what Drew’s reliefs share is a certain in-betweenness. As if frozen in entropic transformation, surfaces of carefully detailed mosaic work give way to untamed appendages, our reception subsequently oscillating between optical fixation and physical response.

Number 215, 2019, occupying three walls and the floor in the main room, offers a panoramic vista of painted wooden fragments, scratched and distressed as if remnants of a long-shattered mural or, alternatively, a now-familiar moment of combustion at a standstill. Yet Drew’s play with generation and decline is nowhere more present than in the materials themselves, which, previously defunct, are imbued with the laborious energy of his craftsmanship, as if born anew.