Review: The Art of the Brick
It's half term holiday week from school in the UK. We joined the crowds of parents and children yesterday heading to Nathan Sawaya’s The Art of the Brick exhibition at the Old Truman Brewery Gallery, Brick Lane, east London. This is a neighbourhood on the edge of the City that is renowned for its curry houses, and mix of regeneration-fuelled bars, chic cafes and retro shops.
There is something almost poetic about an exhibition of plastic Lego bricks finding a temporary home on a street that takes its name from the area's 15th century brick and tile manufacturing industry.
Sawaya is a lawyer turned contemporary artist that applies his talent using plastic Lego bricks as his medium. He says working in Lego has a therapeutic quality, and it’s easier to come by than clay or slabs of the marble.
The Art of the Brick is a one-of-a-kind exhibition. It’s staged over 1,300 sq. metres, consisting of 85 exhibits constructed from more than one million bricks.
It's awe inspiring for children and adults alike. It's emotional, uplifting and fun. I defy anyone that has ever played with Lego not to want to head home and start building.
The exhibits are split into a series of collections: the studio; human expression; bricks and art; blue; the human condition; dinosaurium; and across the universe.
There’s a mix of copies of artistic works including painting and sculptures, and original pieces of work.
Lego replicas of the Girl with the Pearl Earring, Mona Lisa, and the Scream, among others, and juxtaposed with life-sized human forms that explore the mental and physical condition.
The exhibition is heavily influenced by Sawaya’s career journey and the challenge he faced switching from the boardroom to a studio.
“My favourite subject is the human form. A lot of my work suggest a figure in transition. It represents the metamorphosis I am experiencing in my own life. My pieces grow out of my fears and accomplishments,” he said.
Therein lies my tiny criticism of the Art of the Brick. The exhibits are very literal and require no explanation, although every exhibit has a detailed description on a small tablet.
Like the pop quotes projected throughout the exhibition, the explanations are overplayed and simply unnecessary.
This is an exhibition that inspires without explanation. Like most things in life, and art, less is more.
The Art of the Brick has travelled around galleries and museums around the world. It is open in London until 4 January. Tickets cost £8 to £9.50 for children, and £14.50 to £16.50 for adults. A visit will last 60 to 90 minutes.