Monday, March 23, 2015

Just another brick in the wall

Proclaimed by CNN as one of the 'ten must-see exhibitions in the world' and being a keen Lego fan, I was looking forward to The Art of the Brick exhibition, cleverly located on Brick Lane, East London, and running until 12 April and way over-priced. My daughter loved it – but she's eight. I was less than impressed and thought there was something of the Emperor's New Clothes about it. I wouldn't have minded so much if it didn't pitch itself so persistently as being ART. In the press, in interviews, in the plaques next to each piece, and of course in the title itself, The Art of the Brick, the exhibition consistently informs us it's ART, made by an ARTIST, Nathan Sawaya. Indeed, on the website it goes as far as to say:

Nathan Sawaya has earned a top position in the world of contemporary art and has created a new dimension by merging Pop Art and Surrealism in awe inspiring and ground breaking ways. His art consists of playing with the material, colour, movement, light and perspective.

Really? To me, the exhibition had nothing whatsoever to do with art (it lacks feeling for a start), unless it's the Daily Mail idea of art (which Jonathan Jones in the Guardian wittily explained a while ago in an article called Why does the Daily Mail love to hate art?) – ie bridges made out of matchsticks, ie CRAFT. Anything remotely thought-provoking, challenging or disturbing is dismissed by the Daily Mail (ignored if they don't understand it; shocked and outraged if it's disturbing). The work in the Lego exhibition is undeniably, technically adept, but let's not call it ART.

It copies ART. Literally. There are Lego reproductions of paintings by Van Gogh, Klimt, Munch, Michelangelo and others. They're technically well done, mostly. But the pieces that make up the rest of the exhibition, the pieces that the artist plummeted the depths of his soul to create, the pieces that are 'awe-inspiring' and 'inspired' looked to me like nothing more than clichéd business stock image photography.

For example:
Clichéd business stock image photograph.

Clichéd business stock image Lego exhibit.
There are loads of them just like this – all clichéd conceptual crap not seen since 1990s business magazines. I appreciate the work that's gone into the exhibition (over 1m bricks!), but come on, it's time to grow up.

Previously on Barnflakes:
Legoland wildlife
Lego Architecture
Star Wars Lego

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