Monday, February 1, 2010

Two Favorite Artists in NY at Once!

I can't believe my luck that just when I decided that I owed it to myself to make a trip to New York to look at some art, who should appear but my two favorites - Leonardo Drew and El Anatsui - both exhibitions up at the end of February when I plan to go. What are the chances of that? So I'm going to post about each of them in case you do not know their work and to get myself even more jazzed up. (It's unlikely that you don't know about el Anatsui, but anyway.)

Leonardo Drew
at Sikkema Jenkins & Co., January 30-March 6

Image from the Sikkema Jenkins website

I first became aware of Leonardo Drew's work when Gwen Plunkett posted images on her blog from his big show last summer at the Blaffer Gallery at the University of Houston, called Existed: Leonardo Drew. It was his first mid-career survey in the U.S. and had 14 major sculptures made between 1991 and 2005, plus a new installation made just for the gallery and 12 works on paper. It looked fabulous. There were also three videos (now down to two) on the gallery website and I'm including one below where he talks about the meaning of his work: birth - life - death = regeneration.

I bought the catalog from the show (also called Existed: Leonardo Drew) from Amazon (here's the link) and it was just fabulous. 

So here are more images of Drew's work (taken from his website). 

Number 31A, 1999, wood and paper, 120 x 172 x 8 inches

Detail of Number 31A

Number 43, 1995, fabric, wood, rust, 132 x 444 x 5 inches

Detail of Number 43

Number 75, 2000, rust, wood, miscellaneous objects, 144 x 144 x 4 inches

Detail of Number 75

In regard to regeneration, Drew believes in regenerating work from other work so he may combine pieces, such as he did with Number 75. It became part of Number 77, as follows.

Number 77, 2000, rust, wood, miscellaneous objects, 204 x 672 x 4 i nches (that's 17 x 56 feet). That's a lot of miscellany.

I hope you find Leonardo Drew's work as exciting and evocative as I do. There is such meaning in cast-off, decaying things - all the stuff of our lives that is so important until it isn't anymore. Then it becomes just so much detritus, evidence of lives lived and time passed. The objects take on a significance of their own and their decay reminds us of our own decay and mortality. Time adds a patina of rust, grime and weather. It's heavy but beautiful, what Drew refers to as "emotional weight."


Leslie Avon Miller said...

This is what I love about your blog Nancy. I feel like I learn so much about artist's and their work from you. Thank you once again! I'm off to Amazon to buy the catalog.

p said...

wow. a blog friend told me about this post and when i saw this i cried.
in a way it makes me think why bother doing what i'm doing...and yet it spurs me on. FANTASTIC.
thanks for the post.

Jeff Hirst said...

Great post, Nancy. Leonardo Drew is one of my favorite artists. I saw his show at the Hirshhorn back in 2000 and it was an unreal experience-his work has such a wonderful presence. Last summer (right before the Montserrat conference) I went to the Harvard Art Museum and they had one of his pieces on exhibit. Not sure if it's part of their collection or was traveling, but it was a nice surprise as I walked around the corner and there it was! Thanks for posting.

Nancy Natale said...

Hi Leslie, thanks for your comment. I hope you become an LD fan, too, and I think you will love the catalog.

Paula, I understand just what you mean and his work has brought me to tears too. All we can do is to keep working and see if we can translate that emotion into our own work.

Hi Jeff, thanks for reading and commenting. Glad to hear about the piece at Harvard. If it wasn't permanent, it should be.

Leslie Avon Miller said...

Well, it came. I got a hardbound book, not a catalog. 208 pages, and almost all color photos, full page. It is fabulous! I think of so many things - all the machine shops and mechanic shops I've seen over the years, with stashes of various items, methods of compartmentalizing and filing, collecting. Best of all I really love his paintings. When I see work like this I am inspired, and I become brave - to continue to push, to be authentic. Thanks Nancy.