|Nathan Sawaya, Grasp, Lego|
The Lego brand began by way of a Danish wooden toy maker named Ole Kirk Christiansen. In 1934, his company came to be called "Lego", from the Danish phrase leg godt, translating to "play well". The lego turned plastic in 1947, and in 1949 they produced the infamous interlocking bricks. Legos are made from durable plastic and are compatible with any other lego piece with the right sized peg to fit to fit it. It is this versatility of the toys that makes it easy to use as a building block for creativity, leaving its possibilities open to its users. Or in this case, it is a tool that can be easily used by an artist to craft a compelling piece.
|Sean Kenney, Times Square, Lego|
I visited a Lego art show in my hometown of Corpus Christi, Texas a few years back that featured lego art made from various lego artists around the world. I went on two different days and both days there was an astonishing turnout of viewers for the show, more than usual for an exhibits premier weekend at this gallery at least. In my opinion, the large population of viewers was due to the fact that legos are a familiarity to almost everyone. Taking a toy that can be found in about any child's arsenal of toys from the past forty to fifty years and using it as art is uncommon, but makes it appealing to viewers for the fact that it holds a sense of nostalgia alongside awe for the creation in front of them. This combination makes it a fascinating art form.
There are bulks of artists who use just legos as the basis of art. One of my more favorites is Nathan Sawaya. Sawaya has created some of the most recognizable lego art in America. He has created pieces for multiple brand name companies, made replica sculptures of celebrities and well known people, and has galleries across the country comprised of his many original works. I was lucky enough to see his work at the fore mentioned art show in Corpus Christi, Texas and Sawaya's work is awe-inspiring to say the least. Sawaya crafts life sized 3-deminsional sculptures and portrait like pieces of art that are detailed beyond belief. Standing face to face with an abstract man type subject that is made from a toy that you can buy at a local store is surreal. The shapes of all the little square blocks blended into each other resemble that of a pixilated image. It’s almost as if you are looking at a blurred picture or an old video game character but in person. One similarity I found in more than one of Sawaya's sculpture was self mutilation, in that of the person type creation tearing from itself. I found this interesting because it sort of played off of the fragility of the creation, as that seemingly should the sculpture fall it would crumble back into the original little square pieces. It is this combination of dazzling abstract art, resembling the human form with the reminder that it is compiled from a child’s toy that creates an inspiring medium to Sawaya's work.
|Nathan Sawaya, Yellow, Lego|
The use of legos is a basis that is continuously growing in the art world. Its simplicity mixed with a feeling that brings its viewers back to their childhood along with an abstractness that can leave one pondering at the meaning of the work will continue to increase its fan base. The fact that a person can make a lego castle or car as a child that fills their imagination with wonder and still receive the same feeling as an adult looking at a sculpture or portrait made by an artist out of the same little plastic blocks will ever be a basis of inspiration, and a testimony to the creativity and ability of the human race.
- John Wolfe