Leonardo Drew Portrait © Jonty Wilde

Leonardo Drew

Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Living and working in Brooklyn, New York, Leonardo Drew’s abstract works, made from an outpouring of chaotic elements, create installations that express immense tension and turbulence. The artist’s new work, Number 360 (2023), commissioned for YSP’s 18th-century Chapel, is a powerful reflection on the weight of collective experience, memory, and the cycles of life and death, decay and regeneration. This resonates within a historic building where many lives have been played out for centuries – unknown to us, yet somehow conveyed by the atmosphere of the space.

Drew joins several artists in responding to the Chapel, which was built in 1740 and is a singular, contemplative place. Projects here set out to connect emotionally with a wide humanity and to be welcoming to everyone. Previous artists include Ai WeiweiJames Lee ByarsKimsoojaRachel KneeboneShirin NeshatYinka ShonibareChiharu Shiota and Bill Viola.

The basic material of Number 360 is plywood, either blackened or covered with textured coloured paint, which has been ripped apart and splintered to form the building blocks of a conical monolith that surges to over five metres in height. Unusually for Drew, Number 360 is a vertical installation, responding to the height and width of the chapel nave.

Like an explosion held in time, Number 360 conveys ferocious energy as well as trauma and rupture. Drew’s fractured surfaces create their own language, embodying the laboured process of writing the artist’s experience into history. An African American artist born in Tallahassee in 1961 and raised in public housing in Bridgeport, Connecticut, Drew has often alluded to socio-political issues in his work, using such symbolically charged materials as cotton, rope, rags and rust that relate to the antebellum South, the African American experience, and America’s industrial past. He is, however, adamant in his resistance to impose explicit meaning, and chooses to title his pieces only with numbers in order, “to give the viewer enough room to find themselves in the work”.


Saturday 18 March - Sunday 29 October 2023

Yorkshire Sculpture Park
West Bretton

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