In Gallery 1, Goldfinch is pleased to present Curtain Wall, a solo exhibition by Jory Drew. The exhibition is on view from June 12 to July 23.
This presentation of new paintings and sculptures oscillates between abstract formalism and figurative distortions obscuring and provoking the recognition of the body, its environment, and its authorship. Honed through the artist’s integration of mass media, personal experience, and raw material, Drew’s work grapples with desire, shame, and the compromise of assimilation. Drew’s practice confronts visual cues that prompt distortions of the self by way of repetition–commercial ad campaigns, horror films, and pornography–maintaining socioracial hierarchal constructs that dismiss personal identity and promote homogeneity.
In their series of paintings, Untitled (Dissemblance), 2020-22, Drew’s fragmented nudes are cropped to enlarge the subjects into irregular organic shapes; the cutouts of canvas are then sewn over a standardized rectangular ground. These hyper-flattened paintings playfully shift between the figure and face, masculine and feminine, material and abstraction. Eyes turn to nipples as limp phalluses transform to vulvas, merging figure and ground in varying degrees of legibility. The works retain a vertical plane exposing their materiality and structure as they hang flush with the wall. Employing what Drew deems a “body palette,” the addition of warm hues of yellow and pink to shades of brown are reminiscent of the glow of daylight, calling into question the paintings’ opacity and transparency. Like the curtain wall, flat and suspended from anchored corners, Drew’s paintings pull images apart, abstracting them from their context, leaving a fixed surface.
Projecting the illusion of a structureless plane, the namesake of the exhibition, the curtain wall, is recognized as the skin of high modernist architecture—the luxury high rise and the glass house—yet its modern origin was the introduction of the seamless glazed wall to the factory allowing for the illumination of the production floor. Drew’s hand-built ceramic sculptures encapsulate the format of the solid factory wall. Layered slabs of unglazed fired clay are stacked onto one another akin to stacked stones. Each sculpture rests upon its back, placing the viewer above looking down on the hallowed core where an inner figure rests encapsulated in Drew’s outer forms.
The frontal view of these collage-like paintings stands in productive tension with the downward aerial view into the ceramic figures, destabilizing the viewer within the space of the gallery, itself a repurposed industrial manufactory. Drew pushes against the aesthetic equation typically used to reduce the body into a delineated, consumable object in these assemblages. The forms in their work appear as a manifestation of an interior identity and emotional state that Drew attempts to express in bodily terms. Rematerializing representations into two-dimensional and three-dimensional forms of intertwined physicalities, they reclaim autonomy via the disintegration of the human figure and prescribed stereotypes that regulate and fix the representational presence of the Black figure in society.
–Text written by MM Brandt
Jory Drew (he/they) is an artist, educator, and cultural organizer. Drew holds a BFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and will pursue an MFA at UCLA in the School of the Arts and Architecture this fall. They have participated in the Black Arts Consortium and Hyde Park Art Center Artist Residency (Chicago, IL), the Open Kitchen Residency (Milwaukee, WI), ACRE (Steuben, WI), and Hot Box Residency (Austin, TX). They are the proud recipient of a DCASE Individual Artists Program Grant (2020), 3Arts Make a Wave Grant (2021), and Chicago Artists Coalition SPARK Grant (2021). Drew has exhibited locally and nationally, including solo exhibitions in Chicago at Roots and Culture, Mana Contemporary, and Bar 4000. Currently, they are in a group exhibition at Tone Gallery (Memphis, TN) on view through July 2022. They also co-curated An Epithet, a multimedia exhibition featuring artists who use playful strategies of resistance to create sacred monuments and excavate structures of domination, in 2021 at Co-Prosperity (Chicago, IL).
Additionally, Drew is a member of 3rd-Language, a Chicago-based queer art collective and publisher, and a co-founder of F4F, a domestic venue in Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood where they co-organized Beauty Breaks, an intergenerational beauty and wellness workshop series for Black people along the spectrum of femininity.