In the modern world, Lego has grown up. While still a wonderful child's toy that encourages design and engineering skills – inspiring a huge number of designers and architects such as Bjarke Ingels – it's also become a useful creative tool for adults and a medium for artists.
Nathan Sawaya has been creating artworks for many years, turning a hobby into a full-time job – ditching a career as a lawyer for something more creative.
Nathan draws designers for this work on what he calls ‘brick paper’ – graph paper with Lego brick shapes instead of squares. Then, like a more artistic Lord Business, he constructs his works, gluing the bricks as he goes. Nathan used to create each work without glue, then painstaking recreate each creation, sticking brick to brick with toxic-smelling glue. Now he says he’s confident enough in his skills that he can go straight from his drawings to glued bricks – occasionally breaking out a hammer and chisel to make adjustments.
Image: Circle Torso, Triangle Torso, Square Torso. Photography/video by Dominik Tomasewski
The Art of the Brick review
The exhibition has toured the world and has now come to the UK. The recreations of well-known artworks and sculptures as largely nice enough - impressive as technical challenges but they’re not pieces of art in the their own right - though Nathan’s version of Munch’s The Scream is laughably terrible, appearing to have googly eyes.
Nathan’s own designs are what it’s worth attending the exhibition for - also assuming you’re happy to pay the high ticket prices of up to £16.50 per person. Works like Blue and Yellow (shown) have genuine depth to them - and pieces that reference other artists – such as the Escher-inspired Knot – are a lot more fun and creative than the reproductions. (You can see the other works mentioned here later in this article)
The Art of the Brick is at the Old Truman Brewery on Brick Lane until January 4 2015.
Image: Pencil Head
Image: Blue Face Mask
Image: Nathan's googly-eyed recreation of Edvard Munch's The Scream
Image: Nathan's recreation of Venus Di Milo in Lego
Image: Nathan's recreation of Winged Victory of Samothrace in Lego (or is it a rabbit?)
Image: Nathan's recreation of The Thinker in Lego
Image: detail from Cello
Image: The Box
Image: The Writer
Image: Nathan draws out the designs for his work on 'brick paper', which is graph paper with brick-shaped lines.