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Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Art of the Brick by Nathan Sawaya

There is this exhibition going at the ArtScience Museum in Singapore (until 26 May 2013 - extended again from the April deadline) where brick artist Nathan Sawaya showcases his unique creations using Lego bricks. For most if not all people, Lego probably means a childhood toy that you can spend hours toiling over just to build buildings, cars, ships etc. There is no limit to what you can make as long as you have enough bricks to do it. People usually stop playing with Lego when they get to a certain age and probably get into contact with it again when their kids start playing with it. For Sawaya who was a lawyer, he turned his hobby of playing with Lego bricks into a profession i.e. creating art pieces using these little building blocks of various colours. And I was literally blown off my feet when I saw how imagination truly has no boundaries and there were so many things you could create with the humble Lego brick.

The iconic symbol of this exhibition should be "Yellow" pictured above where a person in yellow opens up his chest and out flows a huge amount of Lego bricks. I find this very interesting for its striking colour and of course, the concept of opening up yourself to show others what is within you. No wonder this is considered as one of the signature works of Sawaya.

I won't post every single photo I took during the exhibition here though but I would still like to share a couple of shots of the works which I especially like:

This is titled "Everlasting" and the description says "Love lives forever. It outlives youth and a flat stomach and a full head of hair. And that's what makes it beautiful." It indeed is a great representation of what it means by growing old together because appearances would have changed after all the the years since a couple first got together and to stay devoted to each other despite the less-than-attractive physical appearances for both the man and woman is indeed not an easy feat. It always brings a smile to my face whenever I see an elderly couple holding hands while walking together slowly because most of the elderly couples I know are somewhat at each other's throats arguing over little things and never walking together, let alone holding hands. It feels as if being together all these years has sort of worn out the patience towards each other so seeing a scene like this where an old couple still behaves like a dating couple is really a joy to see. I also like the fact that the couple pictured here are holding hands rather than standing apart because it brought home the message of a couple still in love with each other.

This is titled "Mask" and shows a person taking off the mask but with a blank expression beneath. It's up to each individual to decide what lies beneath the mask so I think that's why Sawaya didn't set a certain expression or look for it.  It's interesting to see what he wrote to describe this work i.e. "I built Mask as a reflection of revealing our true selves. So often we put on a different face and then can no longer identify our own self. Mask identifies the facade we hide behind." because it's true that we have to adopt different masks when it comes to various settings. Sometimes, people hide their sorrows beneath a cheerful mask while some hide their insecurities and fears behind a strong appearance. To get to know a person beyond the image projected by his/her mask, that really takes a lot of understanding and patience because to shed that mask for someone is a major undertaking. If someone has to keep putting on a mask to deal with others, sooner or later, there may be a day when he/she loses track of who he/she really is. That's a pity and a great shame but somehow, it's something inevitable in this era and world we live in.

If you happen to be in Singapore or are here for a visit, do check this out if you have the time. It's a really interesting exhibition and one of the best in the recent ones I've seen. You might just get new insights into your life through these works and be really tempted to play with some Lego bricks again!

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