If you've ever wondered what it would be like to step into a Super Mario Brothers game (we're talking pre-SNES), feast your eyes on these gravity-defying works by LEGO sculptor extraordinaire Nathan Sawaya. The sculptures take ordinarily mundane objects - flip flops, a bucket, even a dog - and re-imagine them as trippy brick versions. Step into our gallery to see them all!
We’ve covered Sawaya’s LEGO artwork in the past, but the cooperative effort shown here with photographer Dean West takes on a decidedly different, more sophisticated feel. Rather than perceiving just the object itself, the viewer is also given a glimpse into its imagined context. For example, Sawaya’s flowing red dress made of LEGO explodes into a trail of bricks, but then we see the same garment being worn by a cold girl underneath a theater marquee in West’s accompanying photograph. Upon further inspection, it turns out that the dress in the photo is actually made of LEGO bricks as well, even though it appears to flutter in the wind as if made from cloth when seen from a distance. Sawaya constructed his works for “IN PIECES” in both NYC and LA and although he didn’t use recycled bricks this time like he has in the past, he did work in extremely limited numbers (just 7 of each object).
“As an artist, I am constantly pushing myself outside my comfort zone to evolve,” Sawaya told us. “This collaboration with Dean was the perfect opportunity to take what I do best and expand into other media.”
The press materials for “IN PIECES” draw a similarity between West‘s photographs and the paintings of American artist Edward Hopper (probably most famous for this iconic piece), and we don’t think the comparison is unfounded. The awkward, emotionally empty and somewhat disturbing vignettes echo Hopper’s voyeuristic undertones, and placing 3D elements from the scenes next to the photographs gives the viewer even more of a chance to connect. “The imagery, from a distance, appears entirely photographic,” explains the exhibit website. “However, as the viewer begins to digest the images, the series reveals its brick by brick fabricated construction. The brick by brick, layer-by-layer process also represents the direct process involved with digital photography today with clear references to pixilation and technology.”
Photos © Yuka Yoneda