I want you to have a closer look at a guy who is creating relatively simple artworks that positively and cleverly impress a lot of people, something I thought almost impossible to do in the age of stun & shock saatchinism. The artist is not using dead animals (like Hirst), his own blood (like Quinn) or one-minute videos of himself in which nothing happens (like Emin) to deprive people of appetite and/or wipe out their libido for the next week or two. He is a happy adult who plays Lego.
My relationship with Lego has been rocky. Perhaps, even dysfunctional.
Because I have two boys.
Two boys distanced at 3.5 years from each other make perfect brothers when they grow up. Growing up begins when they stop sharing toys. Before that, it is a kind of war when prisoners are not taken and all means are good to the end best described as ‘brother annihilation’.
Lego is the worst toy in these ‘circumstances’ because anything built by one brother can be destroyed by the other. For parents, it creates a costly illusion that they can buy Lego in a quantity sufficient to stop the brotherly strife.
Don’t let Lego sneak into your house. Do not surrender to Lego’s marketing savvy. They lure you with promises of early development, unlocking your kid’s engineering or creative genius, and Legoland wonders during summer. If your distant relatives believe Lego is a safe choice as a birthday gift, tell them their branch of the family is no longer welcome.
If you think your boys have learned vulgar words from their pals in the kindergarten, you are mistaken. They learned it from you. Yes, it happened that night when you got up to answer the call of nature, and stepped on a lego part that sent excruciating pain all the way from your heel to the brain area that was a subconscious bedroom for all the obscenities you knew but never used in front of the kids. Never had used until that night.
You start avoiding those parts of your house that have been turned into Lego-mine fields.
That’s my younger boy, about 8 (?) years ago, challenging me to get to the other side of his room.
He tried to stop me with an x-wing from the Star-wars series! Medieval knights and space warriors aimed their weapons at me, making me feel one giant Chuck Norris, someone who was not born, but unleashed (a good feeling, actually, given that it is your only chance to emerge unscathed from a collision with a forklift or space fighter).
That’s the only Lego bonus for a parent. It makes you feel stronger than machines, castles and people with a toupee. Dinosaurs didn’t get extinct, they’re just hiding from you. Priceless.
But then you remember how much money this Lego universe cost you. And that it is equal to two distant relatives sharing your house with you, in terms of the floor space it occupies. That’s some price to pay.
Now the younger brother studies Chinese at uni, and studio-records his own songs.
The elder brother is moving over to London to continue his studies in strategic management.
Lego may have been good for them, after all.
What I am sure of, though, is that Nathan Sawaya has benefited from his Lego experiences more than anyone else.
This is the artist who opened the door to my Lego memories. He is doing wondrous stuff with Lego blocks. Get over to his web-site, roam around it, awe at his creativity. He is often sentimental and schmaltzy, and sometimes very commercialised, but just as often he’s simply clever. Moreover, kids love his exhibitions.
I am curious though, does he pay for his Lego parts or they come free?