Lego Art: Nathan Sawaya and Dean West Redefine The Medium

New York-based contemporary artist and sculptor Nathan Sawaya is debuting a brand new collection of artwork entitled IN PIECES, a multimedia collaboration with award-winning Australian photographer Dean West.  Sawaya is best-known for his preeminent and iconic work out of LEGO, while Australian photographer West specializes in hyper realism imagery.  The two artists spent years traveling and working together to blend their crafts resulting in the IN PIECES collection of visually stunning two-dimensional images that are exhibited with corresponding and complimentary three-dimensional LEGO sculptures.

The project is a series of tableau compositions based on ideas about nature, culture, society and more specifically, identity. Identity as a cultural creation has been heavily commercialized and manipulated, and we prominently portray this through a highly stylized representation of contemporary life. The integration of Sawaya’s unique sculpture is key to the series’ narrative and aesthetic.

The images have been constructed using modern photography techniques, combined with specially sculpted LEGO® objects placed within the scenes. The combination not only builds on and accentuates the images’ aesthetic, but also compels the viewer to deconstruct each tableau, thereby exposing elements of the construction of cultural identity itself. Isolated individuals stand in recognizable but chillingly empty minimalist scenes with geometrical design, derived from common features of the American landscape. Their averted eyes gaze into nothingness, and a strange feeling of aloofness and displacement reverberates.

“I’m excited to debut a new form of LEGO art and to continue to take this childhood toy into a new frontier of sophisticated contemporary art,” said Sawaya.  “LEGO is no longer just for building cars and trucks, it’s a legitimate art medium and I’m proud to have been on the forefront of what is evolving into a bit of an art revolution for the toy.” IN PIECES features a series of large-scale tableau compositions based on ideas about nature, culture, society and more specifically, identity.

“Identity as a cultural creation has been heavily commercialized and manipulated,” said West.  “We wanted to prominently portray this by mashing up our artistic styles and mediums into a highly stylized representation of contemporary life.  The integration of Nathan’s unique sculptures adds an innovative and compelling element to the narrative and aesthetic of the collection.”

Nathan Sawaya had a promising career as a practicing attorney when he walked away and to become an artist nearly 10 years ago.  Now he no longer negotiates contracts in a boardroom, but instead creates awe-inspiring art exclusively with LEGO bricks.  Nathan’s artwork is seen around the world in exhibitions, entitled THE ART OF THE BRICK, and in galleries in New York, Paris, Miami and Hawaii.  See more of his work at

Dean West is an acclaimed and award-winning photographer who specializes in highly conceptual and thought-provoking contemporary portraiture.  His body of work has been featured in top photography magazines and art galleries around the world.  Born in Australia and currently living in Toronto, Dean has also been named “one of the world’s best emerging photographers” by After Capture Magazine and included in Saatchi & Saatchi’s collection of the world’s top 100 emerging photographers.  See more of his work at

Lego Art: Nathan Sawaya and Dean West Redefine The Medium

The IN PIECES images have been constructed by combining West’s modern photography techniques and Sawaya’s unique sculptures made out of LEGO. Key to the series narrative and aesthetic, Sawaya’s sculptures are much like the construction of a digital photograph. Thousands of bricks are glued together to form recognizable objects much like the assembly of pixels in a digital image. The similarities in technology not only help shape the aesthetic of IN PIECES, but they are key to deconstructing each tableau composition.

Using mostly frontal style imagery of the North American landscape, the simple unvarnished vernacular locations, reference the American Picture Postcard. Pastel blues, greens and yellows wash across the photographs as if, they themselves, had also been hand colored lithograph. The imagery from a distance, appears entirely photographic, however as the viewer begins to digest the imagery, each work reveals the brick by brick fabricated construction.

Avant Gallery represents, promotes and showcases artists and talent from the disciplines of contemporary art, design and passionate manufacturing – ranging from the world-renowned presently in the peak of their career, to the newest, emerging, and brilliant as-of-yet unknowns who are making their mark on the world’s colorful collage.  For more information please visit:

The exhibition runs until 17 March 2013 Openhouse Gallery (201 Mulberry Street) in SoHo.



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