… “Every inch of this mammoth but oddly delicate work is conspicuously touched, fingered, adjusted, manipulated, rehandled, and rethought so that it reverberates as if it were a living body …”
This is from the essay ‘Being and Somethingness’ by Claudia Schmuckli found in Existed: Leonardo Drew (2009):
… Passion and persistence are Drew’s driving forces. He has stated on many occasions that he does not and cannot differentiate between his life and his art.
… While Drew assumes and embraces what he calls a “black sensibility” rooted in a history of marginalization and hardship, he generally resists literalness and didacticism in favor of an emotional weight that invokes a sense of history and social ruin without pointing fingers. The fact that he chose to number his works instead of giving them titles is indicative of this attitude. Instead, this implicit sensibility manifests itself in an energy that emulates the “aggressive, even violent physicality” of Pollock’s technique.
[line break added] For Drew, the success of Number 8 lies in the achievement of a quality that he calls “otherness,” which he describes as the undeniable manifestation of new possibilities, a sudden opening onto uncharted terrain, the exploration of which is essential for the continuation off his practice. This “otherness” defines moments of recognition that something essential has taken shape within the works.
… Madeleine Grynsztejn observed, “from the discarded materials of a social system founded upon a long history of racism, economic deprivation, and human waste, Drew dedicates himself to constructing, piece by piece, a redemptive and inclusive counter-order.” In keeping with his labor-intensive work ethic, he crafted each box by hand, its contents and joints carefully selected and manipulated to create a non-hierarchical, overall composition that vacillates between emptiness and fullness, openness and closure.
[line break added] “Every inch of this mammoth but oddly delicate work is conspicuously touched, fingered, adjusted, manipulated, rehandled, and rethought so that it reverberates as if it were a living body with an active residue of generative energy, vigorously entertained recollection, and ongoing desire.”
… Drew has often said that he would like his works to function as emotive “mirrors,” reflective surfaces for each viewer’s own wealth of experience, in which one can recognize oneself without any consideration of artistic intent. Openness to interpretation is a hallmark of his oeuvre, but it is especially relevant to his work in plastic, glass, and subsequently paper. Carrying a less symbolic charge than cotton or rope and bare of metaphysical references to other peoples’ lives — so plentiful in much of Drew’s work — these pieces intimate the function of memory more than the memories themselves.
… his is a cyclical journey toward enlightenment full of reprises and returns as well as new beginnings. Asked about the driving force behind his art, Drew’s simple answer, “clarify,” belies the complexity of his project. The clarity he seeks is all-encompassing and includes his personal and cultural history as well as the history of the world. At its core is the conception of existence as a continuum, the questions that apply to “the nature of nature.”