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Nathan Sawaya’s The Art of the Brick: DC Super Heroes report

As one of the world’s few officially recognised LEGO artists returns to London, he brings with him the global name that is DC comics. Brick Fanatics attended a preview of the new exhibition, to find out what Nathan Sawaya has conjured up for The Art of the Brick: DC Super Heroes 

The Art of the Brick: DC Super Heroes has already visited Sydney and Madrid, and now Brits can visit Nathan Sawaya’s latest exhibit, that features some of the most iconic comic characters of all time, in London. His original exhibit, The Art of the Brick, shared his original works with visitors – now he has teamed up with DC Entertainment to produce a collection themed around good and evil.

A purpose-built marquee, decorated appropriately for the content, has been erected at London’s Southbank situated next to the National Theatre. Contained within are incredible LEGO recreations of the ever-memorable heroes and villains that have graced the pages of DC Comics. With the popularity of comic book characters and the legacy that DC has built over the years, it seems a subject matter worth celebrating.

The exhibition is divided into a series of galleries, each themed around a specific idea or selection of characters. The galleries are titles World of DC Comics, The Icons, Fortress of Solitude, Constructing a Hero, Themyscira, DC Light, DC Dark, Hall of Justice, Gotham and Batcave. As the names imply, the most iconic of the DC heroes – Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman – get a special focus. These galleries each contain a particularly impressive work – Soaring, the Invisible Jet and the Batmobile all stand out for different reasons.

The sheer might of these characters is celebrated throughout the exhibition, with larger-than-life recreations of the key members of the Justice League in heroic poses in The Icons and suitably upsized busts in the Hall of Justice. The villains get their moment in the spotlight too, with an incredible grinning Joker head dominating DC Dark, a room that also contains rather eerie skull interpretations of various villains’ heads.

The pieces themselves are impressive and fascinating. Some are literal recreations of the characters, sculpted with LEGO bricks, while others are more abstract interpretations. The mix of styles and types of works on display means that each gallery has something new and interesting to offer. Going from Action Comics No. 1, a comic cover interpreted in three dimensions, to Pushing, showing even Superman has limitations, to Batman Cubed, using colour and shape to depict the Dark Knight, stops anything from becoming repetitive. The ‘wow’ factor is consistent throughout.

What further helps Sawaya’s sculptures stand out is the setting that they are placed in. Although some areas are sparser than others, each gallery has a sense of theatre, an appropriate setting for what is contained within. This is most apparent in the final two galleries, which guests really should see for themselves to fully appreciate.

This is very different to visiting a LEGO convention, as Sawaya has a unique style and vision that all of the pieces are channelled through, predominantly using regular LEGO bricks to demonstrate just what is possible with that humble little piece. Despite this being a collaboration with a global entertainment brand, his sensibilities shine through and it is clear when reading his notes around the exhibit that he had plenty of artistic freedom.

Any LEGO or DC fan will enjoy an hour or two at the Art of the Brick: DC Super Heroes, but for those who really do revel in seeing LEGO bricks used in a unique way, it is well worth allowing an entire afternoon or evening for a visit.

The Art of the Brick: DC Super Heroes is now open; Sun-Wed 10am-6pm, Thurs 10am-8pm, Fri-Sat 10pm-7pm. Tickets are priced at £16.50 for adults, £11.00 for children. Family tickets are also available.

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