Nathan Sawaya is one of just 14 Certified Lego professionals in the world. Who are these people? And why do they get to have such awesome sounding title? According to the LEGO Group, they are "Adult LEGO entrepreneurs who have turned their passion for the LEGO brick and system into a full-time or part-time profession." We've already written about Mainland China's first official LEGO Certified Professional, if you're curious.
The Art of the Brick features 89 pieces constructed of nothing but 1.5 million rigid, rectangular bricks. Some are playful, some are thought-provoking. You’ll find a collection of Sawaya’s original 3D pieces, such as his trademark "Yellow": a yellow man with his chest ripped open, spilling thousands of yellow bricks out onto the floor.
Expect recreations of iconic landmarks, such as the Statue of Liberty and the Brooklyn Bridge, and re-imagined versions of the world’s most famous masterpieces such as Vermeer’s "Girl with a Pearl Earring" and Leonardo's "Mona Lisa". You'll stumble on a sculpture of Rodin's "Thinker", with 4,332 blocks molded into the face, bent arm, closed fist. The brooding expression on that brickish face will send a chill down your spine.
The largest and most spectacular display is the 1:1 recreation of a skeleton of a T-rex. Comprising 80,020 bricks, the dinosaur is 6m long and has to be supported by wires. How the hell did he put it all together? Apparently, it took him an entire summer and lots of dead brain cells.
Since its debut in 2007, Sawaya's goal with the exhibition is to "elevate this simple plaything to a place it has never been before." That's exactly what he's done, building his dream one brick at a time.
The last portion of this exhibition is a play zone, where you can find Lego PSP video games to play and a pool of Lego bricks to build your own creation. These pieces have travelled around the globe and carry handwritten names. A sweet reminder of the universal appeal of the Lego brick.
The Art of the Brick exhibit is on in Tank Shanghai No.5 from 10am to 6pm, December 7 to March 15, 2019. Tank Shanghai is closed on Mondays. Tickets cost 139rmb on the door.