It’s been a true pleasure to discover the art and follow the career of Lego Brick artist Nathan Sawaya over the past few years. I’ve enjoyed Nathan’s Brick by Brick and Red exhibits at the Agora Gallery in Chelsea, and now he has collaborated with photographer Dean West for In Pieces — something completely different indeed!
Geoffrey and I attended a private opening reception for In Pieces on Thursday, February 28th and were blown away by this series of minimalist tableau photographs by Dean West, which digitally incorporate Sawaya’s playful but realistic Lego sculptures. Please enjoy my photographs from the exhibit accompanied by narrative from the show’s official press release.
The project is a series of tableau compositions based on ideas about nature, culture, society and, more specifically, identity. Identity as a cultural creation has been heavily commercialized and manipulated, and we prominently portray this through a highly stylized representation of contemporary life. The integration of Sawaya’s unique sculpture is key to the series’ narrative and aesthetic.
The images have been constructed using modern photography techniques, combined with specially sculpted LEGO® objects placed within the scenes. The combination not only builds on and accentuates the images’ aesthetic, but also compels the viewer to deconstruct each tableau, thereby exposing elements of the construction of cultural identity itself.
Isolated individuals stand in recognizable but chillingly empty minimalist scenes with geometrical design, derived from common features of the American landscape. Their averted eyes gaze into nothingness, and a strange feeling of aloofness and displacement reverberates. Unique talent has been incorporated into the tableaux, with elongated limbs, referencing society’s idealized bodies.
A dress made of LEGO bricks looks more like pixels breaking off into the blowing wind. Juxtaposed against a desolate, American realist environment, the images are appealing, yet eerily ambiguous- a very engaging and unforgettable effect.
Referencing the aesthetic of the American Postcard in both the style and content- the series has been color graded with pastels such as warm yellows and pale blues. The imagery, from a distance, appears entirely photographic. However, as the viewer begins to digest the images, the series reveals its brick by brick fabricated construction. The [layered] process also represents the direct processes involved with digital photography today. Clear references to pixilation and technology are apparent through stylized manipulation and digital enhancements.
In Pieces by Nathan Sawaya and Dean West will be on Exhibit at Avant Gallery (at the Openhouse Gallery), Located at 201 Mulberry Street (Between Kenmare and Spring) through March 17th, 2013. The exhibition will be open daily from 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM.