The Art of the Brick: DC Comics // 13.04.16

Added a new category: Inspiration.. Which is exactly what it sounds like – Things that inspire me. Wanted to write this a while ago but never did, hence why it seems sort of rushed. Hope I’m not breaking any laws by posting photos of an exhibition?

During the middle of last month, a few friends and I visited the Powerhouse Museum to take a look at the LEGO exhibition that was being held there.

Since I don’t regularly visit exhibitions (something I hope to change in the future!), I don’t know how much they usually cost. When I initially bought the tickets they felt pricey, but after the day was over I left feeling like the experience was well worth it.

This certain exhibition featured DC LEGO sculptures by artist Nathan Sawaya. Coming into the exhibition, we were first greeted by one of his more well known works, “Yellow”. We were then led into another room to watch a short video about his process and work on this specific collection of sculptures. The real exhibition started when we were met with “Yellow Vandalized”.

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Yellow (left) and Yellow Vandalized (right)

The exhibition is split up into separate rooms each with a different theme. The first is exactly what you’d expect when you hear “DC LEGO exhibition” – a bunch of your favourite DC characters in LEGO form.

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Each piece had a corresponding plaque that listed the name of the character, a brief description and how many LEGO bricks were used to create it, which I thought was pretty great.

The next room (“The Icons”) featured full scale, monochrome sculptures of Justice League members. Going inside, I was pretty impressed with not only the LEGO, but the sets created to accompany each one. Some of them were quite intricate and they were well suited to each character’s personality.

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Probably the most impressive background set they had in this room, which is a good thing for Aquaman since I feel like he’s underappreciated!

It wasn’t really until I got to this sculpture that I started paying more attention to the details.

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It just looks like a generic sculpture of Batman, but the reason it caught my eye was because of the inscription that came with it. The artist describes that while most people would probably choose the colour black to represent Batman, he thought dark grey was more appropriate as it was representative of his questioning morality.

Gray, for me, is the defining color of Batman. He’s a character who walks a fine line between right and wrong, just like the color gray walks a fine line between white and black.

Such a simple colour choice but one with such a deep meaning. So this is what English class was preparing me for all along!

After bumping into this piece, I was intent on reading the plaque for every sculpture on display. Doing so really made me admire the artist and the art more and more. He was sharing a piece of his thought process and life experiences with each thing he built, despite the fact that his subject matter was already set. He could have chosen to just build exact, full-scale replicas of each hero and that would have been really awesome to see, but instead he was able to add personal meaning. Not all of plaques were serious and deep either, some of them made me smile.

The HQ of Superman (“Fortress of Solitude”) was up next. One of the main pieces here was a really amazing sculpture of Superman in his iconic pose, suspended in the air to create the illusion of him flying.. But for some reason, this caught my attention more:

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The title is Superman Streak and I love everything about it. The style reminds me of those “minimalist movie posters”and it’s just so clean looking. I love the description a whole lot too, since I believe everyone should be given a chance to pursue their dreams:

Superman is flying. For me, flying equals freedom.

I used my freedom to leave my career as an attorney and follow my passion to become an artist.

Because sometimes you need to fly. Especially if you’re a lawyer.

This piece (“Pushing”) was also thought provoking:

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The next section was called “EMPOWERMENT”, and seemed to explore just that – the powers and origins of a few characters.

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This piece was called Streak and was also one of my favourites (I think I just really like that certain art style). The description for this one was also really memorable, and described how the state of being alive requires movement (I took this to mean both literally and figuratively). It also made me feel a little confronted because it addressed punctuality which I have trouble with, haha.

 

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This was one of the more graphic and confronting pieces, titled Cyborg Origin. It reminded me that although we see superheroes on our TV screens and have role models and idols in our lives, we tend to overlook their hardships and forget that they aren’t invincible – everyone’s had their weak moments and it’s an individual’s response that will either break or make them.

I didn’t think the exhibition would be as extensive as it was, but there were actually more rooms than I expected. The next was “THEMYSCIRA” which explored different perspectives of Wonder Woman an her origin. Unfortunately I didn’t snap many photos in this room..

“DC LIGHT” was next. I couldn’t really figure out if there was a theme of this room except that it was very light-hearted and a little more abstract than the previous sections. A few sculptures from this room featuring Aquaman as an octopus, The Penguin as an actual penguin, and Aquaman taking a bath (because why not?):

Directly after “DC Light” was “DC Dark” – which had a completely different atmosphere and mainly featured villains of the DC universe.

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“My goal is to explore the strange relationship between these two strong characters. There’s a bizarre “you complete me” kind of feeling between the two. Batman cannot exist without The Joker, and vice versa… This, I think, is the epitome of good and evil. You need the two sides. Otherwise, there’s no story.”
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“Harley is always doing these really wild things, and always arrives with all this crazy metaphorical baggage attached to her… I wanted to completely flip that perception on its head.”

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I thought this might have been the last section of the exhibition, but to my surprise there were four rooms left to see!

The “HALL OF JUSTICE” featured a bust of each member of the Justice League along with an accompanying comic book cover:

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Not pictured: Batman Bust + Batman Cover

And then two Batman themed rooms: “Gotham City” and “Batcave”.

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Building Batman, a metaphor for building oneself up. The description for this one was also thought provoking, pointing out that unlike the other heroes, Batman is just a normal dude with a cape and really big dreams (the whole billionaire thing probably helps a little too).

…Consider how you, personally, build yourself up every day, the way that Batman is building himself.

 

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Cowl Collection. I thought this was pretty.

The Batcave featured one, very large, very impressive sculpture:

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I honestly don’t even want to imagine how long this took to make. I really admire the artist’s perseverance and patience, haha.

Last but definitely not least: “CONSTRUCTING A HERO”. A totally different art style for the heroes! For this room, each sculpture had a quote as the description.

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Hero Within. 

This one’s unique because it has nothing to do with any of the DC superheroes. According to Sawaya, this sculpture is “the soul of the exhibition”. It’s all about pursuing those dreams and passions you once had when you were a child, and not giving up on them!

I really thoroughly enjoyed this exhibition. The LEGO sculptures were beautiful as were the accompanying sets, and it was obvious that a lot of time and effort was put into the whole thing. I left feeling inspired and walked out with a sense of awe. Of course there were so many other artworks other than the ones pictured here too – So if you haven’t visited, I highly recommend you go check it out before it closes!

Few photos and selfies of us (But also how perfect are the skirts for this? They have LEGO Supermen and Wonder Women printed on them):

 

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