Charles LeDray is one of the best kept secrets in contemporary art. In a small studio in New York, LeDray labours for years on each new project. Past works include two thousand unique miniature porcelain vessels, over three hundred little books and magazines and jewellery and buttons carved from human bone.
Whilst other artists employ small armies of assistants, LeDray is a one-man band. Working mainly with textiles and ceramics, he meticulously stitches and sews, glazes and throws all his work.
LeDray’s project for Artangel is based on clothing. Large amounts of men’s clothing - suits, shirts, ties, gloves - all different, all hand-made and intimately detailed and mostly looking second hand. Surrogates for identity, they embody the desire to reveal and conceal, to be marked out as an individual and belong to a tribe. They work together as one entity rather than as individual items.
All LeDray’s work is like something we have seen or worn, but on a different scale. Much smaller than life-size, they have a quiet, arresting presence. As curator James Rondeau has written, they are ‘flamboyant and modest, tender and violent’.
LeDray has not had conventional artistic training - beginning his career as a security guard at the Seattle Art Museum - then as an art handler for a private gallery where his first piece of work was selected for inclusion in a group show only hours before the opening.