Release Date: 20 July 2009
Throughout his career, Drew has been continuously engaged with the personal trajectory of cultural memory. Made to resemble the detritus of everyday life, his formally abstract but emotionally charged compositions combine qualities of painting and sculpture. Drew uses materials that are emblematic of oppression and hardship as part of the black experience: cotton, rope and rust-caked junk from the street. At the same time, his assemblages are non- representational, employing formal strategies borrowed from abstract expressionism, post-minimal and process art. These transcend any specific historic and ethnic reference and lend his work a unique aesthetic authority that is deeply embedded in the theory and practice of mid-20th-century abstraction. In 2004 Drew began to create sculptures made from paper replicas of his collection of cast-off items that have repeatedly constituted the material source for his works. Presented on their own, or in cases made by the artist, they introduced a new direction into his work, creating ghost-like reproductions rather than emphasizing deterioration and decay. Since then, Drew has used materials in a more economical way to create a new visual poetry of lightness and simplicity, culminating most recently in his installation Number 123 (2006). This brand new volume, and accompanying exhibition, studies these recent developments, and also the artist's new-found emphasis on drawing. The volume also presents a new installation conceived for the exhibition, in which Drew combines materials and drawing in space to create his grandest and most ambitious piece to date. This new installation is complemented by over 90 selected paintings realized between 1991 and 2005, and recent works on paper made between 2005 and 2008, which offer a representative survey of Drew's artistic development as well as speaking to the relevance of the direction that his work is taking. AUTHOR: Claudia Schmuckli is curator of Blaffer Gallery, the Art Museum of the University of Houston, before which she was assistant curator at The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Her most recent project for the Blaffer was Amy Sillman: Suitors & Strangers (2007). Past exhibitions include Katrina Moorhead: A Thing Called Early Blur (2007) and Urs Fischer: Mary Poppins (2006); Allen S. Weiss is Associate Adjunct Professor, Performance Studies and Cinema, New York University. Recent publications include Breathless: Sound Recording, Disembodiment, and the Transformation of Lyrical Nostalgia (2002) and Feast and Folly: Cuisine, Intoxication, and the Poetics of the Sublime (2002) SELLING POINTS: Publication accompanies an exhibition opening at Blaffer Gallery, the University of Houston on May 16, 2009, travelling to The Parrish Art Museum, Southampton, New York in September 2009 The first publication to document Drew's artistic development since 1991 in over 90 works, including 12 recent works and a new piece commissioned for the exhibition Features scholarly essays that interpret Drew's career and his place within the broader context of contemporary art, an annotated chronology, selected biography and bibliography 110 colour & 35 b/w illustrations
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