The Art of the Brick: DC Super Heroes
Don’t Lego Of Your Youth, Comic Book Dads.
It’s a good time to be a 40-something, ex-hardcore comic collector that now dabbles in occasional graphic novels but still gets excited at seeing his 2D heroes on the big screen, TV and now, in brick form. Phew.
Nathan Sawaya is the contemporary artiest that loves those little bricks so much, he’s made them his canvas, and boy, has he gone large on this project. 2,000,000+ little bricks used. What with DC ramping up their, ahem, ‘creative’ output in a race to rival Marvel, this exhibition couldn’t be more timely.
We’ve had Batman V Superman (yawn) and Suicide Squad (where was The Joker?). Affleck pulled out of The Batman movie. Wonder Woman to come (will never fill Linda Carter’s boo…ts!). Justice League? Hmmmm. Batman Lego! (yay!). Justice League Dark (DC animated film with mature content but some of the worst voice acting this side of Steven Toast). There’s a lot of goodwill riding on these legacy characters, but how long will it last? Well, the exhibition goes some way to taking your mind off it all.
Billed as The World’s Largest LEGO® Exhibition, step behind the BFI on London’s South Bank and you won’t miss the eye-catching hoardings. It’s like an Area 54 hangar’s been plastered with iconic comic book imagery and covers from the Golden Age upwards.
They’re all there. Striking a pose like they’re superhero Voguing. After the initial oooooh, it was time to tentatively swing those doors open and see what lies within.
Well. Let’s just say this Batcave is not equipped for mini Batmobiles. You’ll be slapping the reins on the lil’ones (or spending an hour with one on your shoulders) as the buggies are left at the front. Be prepared for some very polite jostling. Be organised. Be amazed. Under 4’s go free (but still needs a ticket when booking, for number’s sake).
As soon as you walk in, there he is, The Clown Prince of crime. He’s life-size, made of bricks and is daring you to sit on the adjacent seat to get a pic. It’s the first of many cool moments. Shepherding (an excited) 3-year-old while firing off bursts of camera roll on the phone was tricky, but hey, we were in the company of awesome. It was time to Dad up.
Wandering, scrutinising, daydreaming and soaking up the work, you’re aware of the iconic figures around you, and your own love affair and history with them slowly comes back to life. There are classic covers recreated for the walls; Batman – The Killing Joke, and the brilliant Flash V Flash issue where it’s all a bit of a yellow and red blur.
There are themed rooms like ‘Dark’, Fortress of Solitude’, etc. and you really do see and feel that Sawaya has found a medium he’s very comfortable with. There are a series of skulls, a cuboid art style approach, and the sense of motion is captured perfectly (especially for Superman flying and The Flash, running). It’s not just replicas of the characters, its Lego dioramas with DC heroes and villains that capture your imagination.
Danny Elfman’s Batman theme drifts under the ambient noise and soundtrack of the exhibition. There’s projections, moody lighting and showstoppers like a full-size Batmobile. It’s got a real high production feel to it.
The Art of the Brick: DC Super Heroes is more like an art exhibition that’s a bit child-friendly than a child-friendly exhibition that adults won’t mind. Don’t let that put you off, though. You can get through in an hour, drag your superheroes in waiting (or plain mutants with terrible berserker rages) and then have a well-deserved heroic pint somewhere and think about maybe….just ordering a few of the classics to catch up.
The Art of the Brick: DC Super Heroes is on – grab your tickets from here.