Leonardo Drew was born in 1961 in Tallahassee, Florida, and grew up in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Drew seemed bound to work as a professional artist from a young age; his works were exhibited publically for the first time when he was only 13 years old. By the age of 15, DC and Marvel Comics courted him to work as an illustrator. However, Drew would apply his talents to a very different artistic path; the abstract works of Jackson Pollock and Piet Mondrian greatly inspired him. Drew went on to attend the Parsons School of Design in New York and earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts from Cooper Union in 1985.
Drew’s works are always sculptural, although he tends to avoid making freestanding pieces. Instead, he will often mount objects onto panels or directly to the wall, which can be seen as a nod to his beginnings as a painter and draftsman. His seminal work Number 8 features rope, animal hide, raccoon skull, and even a dead bird that all hang together, all painted black, creating a deep, dark, and brooding sculptural take on Pollock’s all-over drip painting.
Rooted in historical evidence, Leonardo Drew’s abstract sculptural compositions are emotionally charged reflections on the cyclical nature of existence—from the eroded fibres of human industry and the urban tide of development to the awareness that we are a part of the fabric of a larger universe. His works reflect the universality of existence and the interconnectivity of all beings to one another. They illustrate these relationships through a combination of the visceral qualities of the materials with the abstract sculptural forms the pieces make up. These cosmological frameworks are meant to mirror the organic reality of existence and reveal the resonance of life and humanity.
Leonardo Drew’s work has been exhibited across the United States and internationally. Major solo exhibitions include Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York, USA (2016); Vigo Gallery, London, UK (2015); Anthony Meier Fine Arts, San Francisco, USA (2014); Selected Works, SCAD Museum of Art at the Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah, Georgia, USA (2013); Existed: Leonardo Drew, Blaffer Gallery, Art Museum of the University of Houston, Houston, USA (2009); Palazzo Delle Papesse, Centro Arte Contemporanea, Siena, Italy (2006); Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., USA (2000); The Bronx Museum of the Arts, New York, USA (2000); and the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, California, USA (1995).
Major group exhibitions include Across the Divide | curated by Lu Chao and Ian Rosenfeld, rosenfeld porcini, London, UK (2016); Structures of Recollection, Pearl Lam Galleries, Hong Kong, China (2016); Unsuspected Possibilities, SITE Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA (2015); Summer Group Show, Galerie Forsblom, Helsinki, Finland (2014); Material World, Denver Art Museum, Denver, Colorado, USA (2013); Museum of Art and Design, New York, USA (2012); From Then to Now: Masterworks of Contemporary African American Art, Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland, Ohio, USA (2010); Lost and Found: Selections from the MCA Collection, Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), Chicago, USA (2010); and Black Alphabet: Contexts of Contemporary African American Art, Zacheta National Gallery of Art, Warsaw, Poland (2006).
Leonardo Drew’s works are also held internationally in public and private collections, such as with the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, USA; and the Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton, New Jersey, USA.