Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Starry Night

Starry Night, painted by Vincent van Gogh in 1889, depicts the view outside the window of his sanatorium at Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, where he was being treated after a breakdown and severe depression. As this is an extremely well known and popular artwork, it has been depicted in LEGO form many times.

Arthur Gugick

E.J. Bocan

Alan Boar

Legoland California

Nathan Sawaya

Legoland Discovery Center - Chicago

Son Nguyen


Ed Hall


Original painting by Van Gogh:

And here's a depiction of Van Gogh by Kadigan

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Kryptonian Birth Machine

Swiss surrealist H.R. Giger recently died at the age of 74. In addition to painting and sculpture, he also worked on special effects and movie design, sharing part of an Academy Award for his work on Alien. Grantmasters made this LEGO version of Giger's sculpture Birth Machine.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Peace Chains

Peace Chains by Riccardo Zangelmi. "Peace Chains is an invitation to 'human being ... there is a chain that runs through all the earth, the chain of humanity and peace, it's up to us to decide to wear it and bind us to our great planet Earth."

Friday, May 2, 2014

Artist interview - Ekow Nimako

I'm delighted to bring you an interview with Canadian LEGO artist Ekow Nimako. Look for him to have a public show in the coming months called Black & Dangerous, but in the meantime you can see all of his work online on his site EkowNimako.com or his Flickr stream.


On to the interview:

ArtistBricks Could you introduce us to yourself? Who are you? What is your background as an artist? As a LEGO builder?

Ekow Nimako My name is Ekow Nimako and I was born in Montreal, QC. I moved around quite a bit as a child from London, UK to London, Ontario, finally settling in Toronto when I was 10. I studied Fine Arts at York U and not long after leaving academia decided to become a full-time LEGO artist. I've been building with LEGO for as long as I can remember.


AB Would you consider yourself an artist who uses LEGO, or a LEGO builder who makes art? Is there a difference between those two things?

EN I think there is a difference between a LEGO builder who makes art and an artist that uses LEGO as a medium – myself being of the latter distinction – and the major difference is rooted in the thought process. Technical skill is a requisite in both pursuits, that's a given, but to me art is politics, and as such demands a certain sensitivity to the world that is pivotal in defining oneself as an artist. It is rare you will see works I've created that are not politicized in some way. I don't simply mean to impress people with what I've made out of LEGO, I mean to effect change. It just so happens the medium I'm most familiar with is LEGO.

Auntie Puss

AB How is using LEGO different from using other media for sculpture. For instance, does the essentially squared off shape of LEGO lead to particular challenges or opportunities, or does the toy-like nature of LEGO suggest certain subject matter?

EN Good question. In my opinion LEGO is far more versatile than most sculptural mediums – and thankfully cleaner – I actually liken it to molecular science, building 'living' structures at the cellular level. I tend to use slopes for the surface, and bricks for the filler, which helps me achieve the fluid aesthetic of my objects. The toy-like nature of LEGO creates the cultural polarity I've spoken about before with regards to my work. Most people are not expecting to confront themes of discrimination, sexual abuse, or slavery when it comes to LEGO, and I think that is what makes my work so potent, and significant.

Bre'r the Runaway Hare

AB How has the art community responded to your use of LEGO as a medium?

EN I have received an overwhelmingly supportive response to my work from the art community. There are not many people in the westernized world that have not played with, or come into contact with LEGO at some point, but most artists tend to gravitate to more traditional or conventional mediums, so I stand out. That's a good thing :)

Samii - Spirit Guardian of Discipline

AB How has the general viewing public responded to your use of LEGO as a medium? Do you get a particular response from kids (including your own)?

EN The public is often in as much awe of my work as the art community, if I may say so with my modesty intact. The general response from children and adults alike is that they've never seen LEGO look this way, and I attribute that to the lack of 'studs up' or brick-heavy pieces I make. Most people are not familiar with the extensive assortment of pieces LEGO offers. I myself am still finding out about new parts regularly so it helps to keep things fresh. My daughters enjoy LEGO, so they think what I do is pretty rad, at least their friends do at any rate.

Blue Jay 2.0

AB How has the LEGO hobbyist community responded to your work? Have you ever attended an AFOL event such as a ToroLUG meeting or the Brickfête gathering?

EN The LEGO hobbyist community has been good to me. I met some key members of ToroLUG at a LEGO competition and I've since joined the group and offered up some displays in stores with them. Some come out to my exhibitions in earnest, too. I would consider myself an inactive member however, as my work keeps me focused and in the studio. There was a long period in my teenage years and early twenties when LEGO was not really a part of my life, so when I came back to it, ToroLUG members definitely helped me fill in some of the gaps with how the product had developed and certain technical and part avenues. Shout out to Nick, Sean, Rolf, and Simon.

AB I've heard you say that Flower Girl is your favorite piece from your "Building Black" exhibit. I have to agree - she is both beautiful and haunting. Can you say what this piece means to you?

EN Flower Girl was designed to be the center piece for my Building Black exhibition, and she lived up to her purpose. I was in a very heightened state of racial awareness when I created her, and because I have daughters myself, I've always been very touched by the tenderness of women/girls, and simultaneously crushed by the loss of innocence they often experience. Women are the earth's most precious resource, and I plan to explore their inherent strength and fragility much more in my future work.

Flower Girl

AB Another one that really jumped out at me from your recent show is Tar Baby, Can you say a few words about this piece?

EN Tar Baby is a very special piece indeed. She touches on many things: the torrid race relations of North American post-slavery society, the appalling past and dubiously present popularity of minstrelsy, the shadism that exists in and out of the black community and family. The fact that tar as a substance calls upon notions of cultural blackness and discriminatory slander is enough. Though, because I chose to craft this living sculpture in such a delicate state, I like to think she nullifies a lot of these negative associations, too. A sweet, slumberous ball of innocence and tension.

Tar Baby

AB One other that grabbed me in a different way was Junior. I have to say that one probably gives me nightmares. Can you tell us what that work means to you, and more broadly what your "Being Fantastical" exhibit will be about?

EN Yes, 'Junior' represents my long time fascination with myth and villainy. The son of Satan, or the anti-Christ, or however theological/popular culture perceives him, I have always been interested in the rise of the villain, mainly because most villains do not start out as nefarious beings. They are in fact often altruistic by nature until events in their lives compel them to darkness ie. Anakin Skywalker. So 'Junior' is my way of depicting a famous villain, or rather his son, before all the 'evil' besets him. My 2015 exhibition 'Being Fantastical' will be about otherness and its drastic consequences – discrimination, abuse, ostracism, violence – all told through the eyes of various mythological and fantastical beings. It will include pieces like the self-explanatory 'Rise of the Big, Bad Wolf' and 'Pariah Girl', a chilling take on the Medusa legend. It will be quite the big deal, I expect.


AB Thank you so much for answering my questions! Again, for my readers, please check out Ekow's work on his site EkowNimako.com or his Flickr stream. Also check back on his site for any news of upcoming exhibits.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Mona Lisa

The Mona Lisa is probably the best known painting in the world. Leonardo da Vinci painted this portrait, probably of Lisa Gherardini, the wife of Francesco del Giocondo, between 1503 and 1506. The painting is also known as La Gioconda, or "the happy one" (also a pun on the family name of Giocondo). BTW, "Mona" is not her name, but an Italian title akin to "My lady". The painting can be found in Paris at the Louvre, though in the past 50 years it has occasionally traveled to other locations (including Washington DC and Tokyo) on loan, and was stolen for a time in 1911 by an Italian nationalist who wanted to return it to his home country. As you may well expect due to its fame, the Mona Lisa has been reproduced and parodied in many ways, including a great number of LEGO renditions.

Arthur Gugick

ChrisLego, Li Li

Warren Elsmore, one from Legoland California

Eric Harshbarger, and another by Eric

Third version by Eric Harshbarger, Brian Korte (his site is here)

Katrin K, Son Nguyen

DJBaggaDonuts, Udronotto

Joshua Christianson

LEGO Pavilion at Nasu Highland Park

Nathan Sawaya, Uno Brick

Monday, April 28, 2014

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Napoleon Crossing the Alps

Another fun take by Tkh, this time of Napoleon Crossing the Alps. The original depiction of one of Napoleon's military campaigns was painted in 1801 by French artist Jacques-Louis David, requested by the Spanish king Charles IV as a symbol of his friendship with France. Further copies were made by David at the request of Bonaparte himself.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Girl with a Pearl Earring and a really big head

I'm not sure if this should be tagged "LEGO rendition of other art" or "Parody", so I'll go with both. Tkh came up with this fun take on Vermeer's Girl with a Pearl Earring.