Just Opened

Published on October 31st, 2014 | by Joe Reddington

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Art of the Brick Exhibition, Shoreditch

So I have a confession. And you certainly can’t tell the guys at liveforfilms.com about it.  The Lego Movie broke me.

I’m quite happy in my life as a film reviewer. You get to absorb, you have a responsibility to deconstruct, to bring out themes, to place things in their proper context. I get to write high-handed things about shot setup and be snippy about scripts.

Unfortunately the Lego Movie broke me.  Never mind being my favourite film, I’m of the opinion that it’s the greatest piece of cinema, nay media, ever created – that the whole of human culture peaked with it.  My 700-word film reviews have become “Not as good as the Lego Movie” repeated 100 times.

So it was with trepidation that I agreed to review Art of the Brick. An art installation in which Lego is used as the medium.  Would this break me for art reviewing? Would that be any great loss?

Art of the Brick is the output of Nathan Sawaya, a former lawyer who started making a few Lego sculptures and, being a bright man, made damn sure he had a heavyweight commercial backer before taking the jump into full time artist mode (people cynical about such things should feel free to read some of Da Vinci’s begging letters to patrons… which, to be fair, are their own type of masterpiece).

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Our first problem is that the first, say, third of the exhibition is much more Lego than it is Nathan Sawaya’s own art.  Unless his muse inspired him to replicate the Mona Lisa, Michelangelo’s David and various other famous bits of art (although I did enjoy The Scream in 3D).   When we do get on to the original pieces, embarrassingly enough it’s the method of construction that tends to fascinate rather than the art itself.  There are some videos of the process, including some that suggest Sawaya glues his first drafts together, complete with footage of him chiselling them apart when they go wrong… which does strike one as being the actions of someone who hasn’t really grasped the point of Lego…

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For the art lover, the main problem is that most of the pieces are a little simple, almost all of them look like the belong in a motivational picture with a slogan underneath. I found a good 50% of the pieces moving but I suspect that’s as much from the title and concept as anything else. The medium is great for publicity, for children, for accessibility, and for reproduction – but it’s less than ideal for getting to the mind of the artist.

However, all this is simply preface for the 30-somethings wandering though. Because at the end of the tour there are massive bins of Lego to play in.  Massive. Suddenly all thoughts of art appreciation were lost as my friend and I dived into an orgy of putting bricks on top of bricks –  satisfying an urge ignored for 20 years.  We made a train, a plane, bridges, and cannons. It was awesome.

Best art exhibition ever, regardless of the art.

THE ART OF THE BRICK, Nathan Sawaya, the Old Truman Brewery, Brick Lane, London, UK.

Art of the Brick is showcasing at the Old Truman Brewery in Shoreditch till 4th January 2015.  Priced from £14.50 for adults and £8.00 for children.  For information visit http://artofthebrick.co.uk/

Old Truman Brewery, Ely’s Yard, 15 Hanbury St, E1 6QR

Photo Credits: Jane Hobson

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About the Author

Joe Reddington blogs on disability and creativity at joereddington.com and films at liveforfilms.com



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