By Blaze Gonzalez
Sculpture and mixed media works utilizing the LEGO brick as the main medium for art making at the Art and Culture Center of Hollywood.
Constraints are cool, or constraints can be cool. In the case of Nathan Sawaya, Lego artist extraordinaire, his choice to utilize the medium of the pure LEGO brick for his fine art practice is both endearing and well… limited.
The former lawyer turned international LEGO artist, graced the Art and Culture Center of Hollywood (June 7th– August 17th) with his show “The Art of Nathan Sawaya.” The sheer technical skill of his work is impressive: a life size full body self portrait, oversized skulls of white, pink, black and grey, a red evening gown flowing in the wind…
His ability to render is inescapable, but the ability to move away from the tropes of pixilation and childhood that are innately bound to the LEGO brick is also inescapable. A nice departure from the crutch of the medium is his collaboration with Australian photographer Dean West; wherein, Sawaya built LEGO sculptures that West incorporated into large-scale photographs. The rhetoric behind the photographs was less than desirable, but the photographs themselves were emotive. This series incorporates the union of pixilation, analog technology, and nostalgia without the need to explicitly state the use of LEGOs. One photograph in particular, entitled “Pool,” stands on it’s own two feet as a fine art piece. It features a lanky ginger, blankly standing by a bleak pool with LEGO towel and sandals.
Sawaya’s appropriation of the Danish product made for play into a product for fine art is no doubt impressive. His sculpture “Yellow,” which depicts a bust of a man tearing his chest open to reveal shattered LEGOs, is a strong example of how his work can be both accessible yet creative.
Don’t listen to me though. I mean, Lady Gaga really likes his work.