Thursday, October 16, 2014

Art of the Brick by Nathan Sawaya

When told by a friend that I should go see Art of the Brick by Nathan Sawaya, I admit that I was a little skeptical. I never liked Lego much as a child and I'm not particularly interested in it now. While I had seen some amazing photos in the press and thought it looked rather cool, I expected it to be a bit like an FAO Schwarz with Lego Empire State Buildings… Boy was I wrong.

Art of the Brick is one of the most inspiring things I've seen in a while. I think it may have helped that I attended a lecture delving into the influence of Andy Warhol just a few days before. I was in the mood for something artsy and interesting, but even if I hadn't been in that frame of mind, there's no denying how mind-blowing this exhibition is. Nathan Sawaya doesn't just present sculptures of Lego as one might expect… He recreates famous works of art such as the Venus de Milo or The Scream and he does them with Lego bricks. He also creates his own works, taking inspiration from his life, stories he's been told and things that have happened to him. Like Andy Warhol, he takes something we all know and makes it something new… Sawaya has done for Lego what Warhol did for soup cans, Marilyn Monroe and and Brilo boxes. I was thinking this throughout the exhibition when finally I stumbled into the portrait section featuring a portrait of Warhol in Lego… I wondered to myself if perhaps Nathan Sawaya considers him to be an influence. From full scale sculptures of dinosaurs to very symbolic works with deep meaning, this is not your husband's children's Lego Death Star kit fully assembled… Art of the Brick is just that. It's art and it's incredible!

One of the things I loved about this exhibition is its relaxed feel. There's obviously a kid-friendly element here and I loved that many of the sculptures were displayed down low where little tykes can see. We were also encouraged to take as many non-flash photos as we liked, which is great - I always hate it when I can't take photos… This is the age of Instagram after all! At the end of the exhibition, there's a seat for guests to sit next to a Lego man for a photo op followed by a playing station full of… You guessed it… Lego! The interactive aspect of Art of the Brick makes it a great experience for children and adults alike.

Something else that I really enjoyed about the exhibition is how they incorporated the artist's quotes throughout, each one more inspiring than the one before. Between the quotes, the video and placards next to each piece, it's obvious that Nathan Sawaya is not just a man with some Lego… He's an artist to be respected and one who looks for inspiration both within and without. 

I couldn't possibly choose a favorite piece from Art of the Brick. There were several different types of pieces and each one unique in its own way. I did however particularly enjoy the portraits section, featuring well-known faces such as Bob Dylan and Janice Joplin. They were just so impressive, but really, the whole exhibition is so playing favorites is impossible.

Art of the Brick by Nathan Sawaya is currently showing at The Old Truman Brewery near Brick Lane through 4 January 2015. Tickets are available online at and there are family packages and student discounts available. I highly recommend catching this exhibition in London while you have the chance - it truly is incredible!

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