What can be done with the humble Lego brick that has never been done before? That’s what you might wonder, as new exhibition “The Art of the Brick” rolls into town. But artist Nathan Sawaya has managed to create something that’s not only technically brilliant but also genuinely artistic. And me and Eva are here to give you a virtual tour.
The starting point is a film where Sawaya explains the thought process behind the exhibition. I’d just heard it from the man himself, as he explained that his love of Lego has started as a 5-year-old and stayed with him through a career in corporate law, until he decided to sculpt Lego for a living. It sounds fun but also painstaking and he described how one mistake, on a giant hand, took hours to unpick. The centrepiece of the exhibition – the T-Rex – took a full summer of work. I couldn’t wait to see what all that work had produced.
Moving on from the film, we wandered past reproductions of some of the most famous sculptures ever. David and Venus kept each other company in matching grey blocks, while another man just sat there and thought a lot. Eva was very excited about the whole thing:
Next, we found ourselves in a room full of art classics. The “Mona Lisa” was there, “The Girl With the Pearl Earring” and even a 3D-rendition of “The Scream”. Eva’s favourite was the Klimt Kiss, which may be because she likes yellow so much but also because she liked the people “aving a duddle”.
There’s also a detail from the Sistene Chapel ceiling though Sawaya chose not to recreate the entire ceiling. That would have been quite something Then, there was “The Great Wave of Kanagawa”, which had quite stunning levels of detail:
Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” and a Rembrandt self-portrait. At Eva’s behest, I took pictures of every piece, but I’m not going to show you all of them for fear of spoilers. You should really see them in the Lego-y flesh.
The next room had a more playful feel, with a giant pencil that was “perfect for writing on the ceiling”, an apple and a giraffe with tiger stripes. Obviously, Eva liked that last one the best. But she didn’t linger long, as she was drawn towards the impressive vertical model of the solar system that stretched from floor to ceiling. One of the photographers there got a picture of her gazing at it, so do keep an eye out for her cheeky face in your favourite publications.
After that, a swimming woman got a room to herself:
Before we emerged in a room with the most celebrated pieces “Yellow” and “Circle Torso, Triangle Torso, Square Torso” (you’ll recognise them from the posters). It was hard to get close to those,as Nathan Sawaya was giving interviews in the middle, but Eva liked the red, yellow and blue face masks. The whole room was a collection of surrealist kind of art, showing that Lego really could translate to any kind of art form.
Which was only proven by the darkness and introspection of the next room. A parent mourns the loss of a child. An artist loses his hands. I found it a bit disturbing – probably more so for being rendered in such friendly, colourful bricks. We moved on to what I thought would be the prize of the collection for Eva – the T-Rex
No, she was terrified of it. Serves me right for not bringing Reuben but sadly, he was at school. He would have loved the exhibition though – I may try and take him later on in the run.
Given that Eva was so scared of the dinosaur, it was probably best that the next corridor was once more friendly, accessible art. A portrait of Jimi Hendrix, a multi-coloured peace sign..it all led nicely on to the brightly-coloured “Britain” section at the end. It may be Britain at its most clichéd (telephone box, Beatles, “Keep Calm” sign) but it’s nice that the show has been customised for London.
Then, there’s the interactive area. Tables full of lego and a pit full of duplo that not only entertained Eva for a long time – it also got her into the background of two news pieces. Meanwhile, I was working on my own artistic masterpiece:
I never said I was arty, OK?
So, to sum up it is a fab exhibition. Fun but innovative at the same time, it manages to do something new without ever disappearing into pretentiousness. I’m no art connoisseur but it’s exactly the kind of exhibition I enjoy. We were in there for around an hour and a half, as there was plenty for Eva to look at too. She didn’t even try and break any of the sculptures, which was remarkable. It’s very suited to toddlers and parents will love it too. But I’ll warn you now, getting a ticket might be a tricky business….