Art of the Brick Featured Image

Art of the Brick Lego Exhibit

01 Art of the Brick ExhibitLego bricks have fascinated children – big and small – since the colourful toy in its current plastic form was introduced in 1947.  The pre-cursor wooden version was created in Denmark in 1932. LEGO, derived from the Danish phrase “leg godt” or play well, has transcended its original form to become a legit artistic medium for kids and adults alike. Take a walk with me through The Art of the Brick exhibit at the Canadian Science and Technology Museum and you’ll see what I mean.

Up front are some “easy access” pieces where artist Nathan Sawaya has recreated traditional paintings and sculptures with the tiny bricks. The replicated paintings are made from thin and smooth bricks with some 3D elements. The Great Wave Off Kanegawa has always been a favourite of mine. The brick version is a cool take – especially in profile.

The choice to use standard bricks for the sculptures and statues gives an angular and infinitely interesting surface, which is used to even better effect deeper in the exhibit. I found myself walking around statues to see what the light would do from different angles. I suspect this is deliberate as a way to have the audience view the pieces in the same way you would the originals.

The next section features some flights of fancy that highlight the saturated colour combinations allowed by Lego bricks. This part of the gallery is the most kid friendly, offering simple themes that don’t try to say too much beyond the obvious,

“Lego is colourful and fun!”

The remainder of the exhibit kept the teenagers I was with interested but I often found it full on haunting, sticking with me for days after. The sense of loss conveyed in Hands and My Boy is all the more impactful because it’s so unexpected. I was amazed at what could be accomplished with such a simple medium.

76 Art of the Brick Exhibit

IN PIECES is a multimedia collaboration based on ideas about nature, culture, society, and identity. It portrays a highly stylized representation of contemporary life. THE IMAGES have been constructed using modern photographic techniques, combined with specially sculpted LEGO objects placed within the scene.

It took me a while to figure out what was going on with these pieces. The a-ha moment was fun. The artists digitally added a real 3D Lego object into a set of stylized paintings. By looking at the painting and then finding and focussing on the Lego object I was drawn into the piece. I found it strangely compelling and loved that the Lego objects were set up near each painting so I could have a good look. The following series of pictures steadily zooms in on the painting and then highlights the Lego object.

The artist saved some of his most popular pieces for the finale. The life-size yellow men in various states of introspection was a fitting end to an exhibit that was far greater than the sum of its tens of thousands of parts. Art of the Brick is on show in Ottawa through Labour Day Weekend, 2018 and then has several dates in the US midwest broken up with a late 2018 stop in Geneva, Switzerland. You can visit the artist’s website at: Brick  I highly recommend it!

Have you seen Art of the Brick or a similar exhibit where everyday items were turned into art? Any thoughts on Art of the Brick you’d like to share? Feel free in the comments below.

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