Sculptures with LEGO | Nathan Sawaya
Some artists use paint, others bronze – But for Nathan Sawaya he chooses to build his awe-inspiring art out of toy building blocks. LEGO® bricks to be exact. With more than 1.5 million colored bricks in his New York studio, Sawaya’s sculptures take many forms.
The Art of the Brick® features 29 large-scale sculptures by Lebanese/ American artist Nathan Sawaya made entirely from LEGO® bricks. Sawaya’s art is currently touring North American museums in a show titled, The Art of the Brick. It’s the only exhibition focusing exclusively on LEGO as an art medium. The creations, constructed from nearly one million pieces, were built from standard bricks beginning as early as 2002.
Nathan Sawaya returns to Agora Gallery in RED – an exhibition featuring his all new work, which presents for the first time the recent artistic shift which Sawaya’s work has undergone. While the sculpture retains its surrealist charm, the artist says that his work is in many ways ‘the antithesis of my previous work. It is an introspective show. By working with an unconventional medium, I work within the trappings of a self-imposed prison.’
Nathan Sawaya works in his studio with over 1.5 million LEGO brick components. By this stage in his career, he says, he even sometimes sees the world in little rectangle shapes. Yet the unusual medium is an important part of what makes the work so appealing. The structure of the bricks themselves lends a certain appeal to the pieces – although each individual block is an unyielding mass, the pieces when seen in their entirely look smooth and gently finished. The sharp edges come into focus only from close up, while from further away, they cannot be seen.
Naturally, the associations that so many visitors have with LEGO as a beloved childhood toy is also a fundamental element to be borne in mind when viewing the art. Because of this dynamic, Sawaya finds that people who would never normally visit an art gallery or exhibition are struck by, even bowled over by, his LEGO structures. They are able to view them in a rare and special way, reawakening long-lost memories and feelings which then combine with the present experience of his fascinating creations.
“ Accessibility is the first and foremost important element to getting started. We didn’t have slabs of marble or coils of rebar lying around.” Looking at this exhibition, no one could wish for marble or rebar. These fascinating, thought-provoking sculptures represent fine art at its most creative and best.
Exhibition dates: November 23, 2010 – December 14, 2010
Reception: Thursday, December 02, 2010 6-8 PM
Gallery Location: 530 West 25th St, New York City
Gallery Hours: Tues – Sat, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Born in Colville, Washington and raised in Veneta, Oregon, Sawaya’s childhood dreams were always fun. He drew cartoons, wrote stories, perfected magic tricks and also played with LEGO. Sawaya attended NYU. After college he rediscovered LEGO but not as a toy, but rather as a medium.
His work is obsessively and painstakingly crafted and is both beautiful and playful. Sawaya’s ability to transform LEGO bricks into something new, his devotion to scale and color perfection, the way he conceptualizes the action of the subject matter, enables him to elevate an ordinary toy to the status of fine art.
According to journalist Scott Jones, "Sawaya is a surrealist mash-up of forms and artists. Imagine Frank Lloyd Wright crossed with Ray Harryhausen, or Auguste Rodin crossed with Shigeru Miyamoto, and you start to get a sense of where Sawaya is coming from."
Sawaya’s art form takes shape primarily in 3-dimensional sculptures and oversized portraits. He continues to create daily while accepting commission work from around the world.