Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Art of the Brick Exhibition – Where LEGO Is More Than Mere Child’s Play

Recently, Red Dot Diva received a text message from a friend one rainy afternoon, “Have you been to 'The Art of the Brick'? Is it worth going?

A loud and emphatic “YES!!!” was her reply.

Like most children, Red Dot Diva owned a box or two of LEGO blocks when she was an ankle-biter. And she probably did build a decent thingamajig or two, but Red Dot Diva has always been more a thinker and writer than an architect or builder.

Since then, she’s always been intrigued by people and even children, who are able to construct their own creations or recognizable pop-culture models, like the Death Star or a Batmobile.

So, when famous artist Nathan Sawaya’s talked-about “The Art of the Brick” exhibition opened at the Art and Science Museum late last year, Red Dot Diva and her Evil Twin (also a LEGO-collector herself), couldn’t resist going to the show.

NY-based Sawaya has acquired quite an ardent following with his various art pieces built from LEGO bricks. This was the first time that the exhibition was being displayed in South-East Asia. And what a totally mind-blowing amazing show of LEGO art that was!

Nathan Sawaya’s vision and passion for the LEGO bricks were evident in all his showpieces – in fact, masterpieces would be a more suitable term for them. Many were made in astounding 3D and several were almost life-sized.

Upon entry into the exhibition hall, visitors were greeted by a forlorn grey human figurine called “Hands” as well as (arguably) Sawaya’s most famous piece called “Yellow”, which signifies his own personal metamophosis. It was even more stunning to see "Yellow" in real life.

In the very same room, Red Dot Diva's eyes were also drawn to the very enchanting blue piece called “Swimmer”. Maybe it was the perky butt that did it. Hahaha

Showing a fascinating eye for shape and shading, even simple subjects like apples and water drops (from the one called “Rain”) take on fascinating 3D-form in Sawaya’s skilled hands. There was also an interaction section with LEGO bricks next to the water drops, mischievously beckoning Red Dot Diva and her Evil Twin to mimic Sawaya’s creation. But… tried as they may, they just didn’t have enough XP to even get to intermediate level. +1XP for effort though!

Wandering into the next hall, Red Dot Diva thought she may have found a potential new boyfriend. Nice biceps. A solemn thinker. Doesn’t talk back. Downside is, he’s always feeling blue.

Then, there was a particular piece that had Red Dot Diva and Evil Twin gasping in wonder for many minutes. The piece in question was a construction of an artist’s studio setup, complete with easel with “painting”, fruit bowl subject, and even the black and white parquet floor – all built with LEGO!

In the next exhibition hall, there were displays of human figurines in different poses depicting various emotionally moving themes, like "Disintegration" and "Everlasting". With the pieces enhanced by the focused lighting, one couldn’t help but delve into a deep introspective mood while appreciating the artworks.

Even Sawaya's 2D art forms looked magical. The next section consisted of several “picture portraits”, including one of Red Dot Diva’s favourite director, Alfred Hitchcock! Sawaya’s pixel-eyed knack for picking out the right colour shades and use of blank spaces was so uncanny.

And for the heck of it, there’s also an app where you can “Legolize” your own portrait. Using a camera pic of her own headshot, Red Dot Diva ended up looking like a faceless hybrid-alien from "Avatar".

The next exhibition hall was aptly called “The Emotion Box”. Here, Sawaya’s humanoid constructions portrayed different somber moods, like angst and transformation, made even more powerful and moving by the strategically placed rays of spotlight. The highlight here was a captivating piece called “Mask” – a tall grey human figure stoically holding his actual face directly in front of his head - an emotion Red Dot Diva is sure many could identify with.

And just when Red Dot Diva thought she couldn’t be wow-ed any further, there standing before her, was a marvellous 6-meter long T-Rex skeleton model made out of over 80,000 LEGO bricks! WHOA! Still quite fresh from viewing the real T-Rex fossil at New York’s American Museum of Natural History, Red Dot Diva was blown away by Sawaya’s almost detailed take on the dinosaur.

Rounding up the exhibition was a play section, with a colourful foot reflexology mat made of LEGO. Ouchy! was more like it.

Since there were seats here, this was a good excuse for Red Dot Diva and Evil Twin to rest their feet, and while doing so, they attempted to build their own LEGO creations. However, being far less imaginative and dexterous than the master Sawaya, they could only come up with these rudimentary models.

After taking in the entire exhibition, count the Red Dot Diva bedazzled! She has never seen anything like this before. “The Art of the Brick” was surreal, inspiring and laid out a stream of possibilities from a simple children’s toy brick.

So, don’t ask Red Dot Diva if it is worth going to “The Art of the Brick”. Just GO and be enriched!


The Art of the Brick” exhibition is still currently showing at the ArtScience Museum till 14 April 2013.

Click here for more information.

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