The Clever Lil’ Ploys of Ego Leonard
When interviewed he said, “according to you I come from the virtual world, a world that for me represents happiness, solidarity, all green and blossoming, with no rules or limitations.”
No Real Than You Are is an amazing avante garde, digital gallery of the artworks created by Leonard Ego. The realistically painted acrylics speak to the soul of the imaginary 21st Century.
Dutch painter Ego Leonard paints pictures of LEGO minifgs that he IS. The enigmatic artist scours the deepest reaches of minifg explorer “virtual world,” ignoring questions that probe too deeply into the realities of modern minifigicity.
The much loved saying, “No Real Than You Are.” came about when at the Dutch resort of Zandvoort when Leonard was found floating not far from the shore and hauled out of the water. Surprisingly reporters joined the frenzy to find out who this was. Leonard’s work became known worldwide thanks to the well-executed prank imortalising the eight-foot minifg, and sporting the mangled English phrase, “No Real Than You Are.”
No Real Than You Are
If you ask whether the character called Leonard is real, based on your observations that people seem to be acting as though he is so, you will of course be caught by the retort – “No real then you are!”
The artwork is reflexive and rhetorical.
After the staged escapade on the beach, Leonard’s art was a self-reflection where he depicts himself exploring the world and encountering society’s hypocrisies and contradictions. He is Dutch but his work is filled with Americanism and profound criticism of post-9/11 sensibilities, which are laced with alacrity.
Negative Reaction to the EGOtism Exhibitied by Leaonard
However such a clever fellow as Leonard doesn’t need all that attention. In fact, some art critics object to the statements Leonard’s artwork seems to be saying.
Abject Eye is one of these most outspoken critics. “Leonard shouldn’t be getting attention at all! Surely he should be in the toy room where he is meant to be.”
When his fans argued that this seemed to be talking down to the 8 foot chap, Eye replied at length.
“Let’s look at some of these “artworks” to see what this outlandish plastic chap is saying. The Money Laundrette. Indeed what would a plastic chap like Leonard know about laundered money? Why we don’t talk with children and toys about serious matters such as dealing with money. Let the adults deal with these things that’s what I say. We are the ones who really know what to do with money.”
Undeterred, Leonard’s supporters argued that adults seem to be ruining the world with their addiction to money.
But Abject Eye was there at the ready …”Prosperity – there you are! What would a plastic chap know about how the world really works? A rabbit being dragged along in a cart chased by a rat? See that? A rabbit being dragged along and being chased by a curious rat. Well I never! Makes no sense to me. sigh Is he saying something?”
“Now I like the one that’s called Bragging. It’s Not Bragging If It’s True? Of course it’s not bragging if it’s true! Does he want a degree for that or something? And Starbucks. What about Starbucks? Starbucks is everywhere. Why, it’s a corporate success and that’s life. So Star Bucks? So what!”
It’s the painting called Conceit that has me bluffed! What could this little plastic fella be saying about a man dressed in work clothes strapped to – an oil rig. Or something? He seems often to be saying something about oil. Look at the guy from the Middle East in Red Ascent; we get to work and they’ve got the key? Is that it? How could that be it? hrmmph Nonsense I say.”
Super Realism with a Humorous Twist
In the days of the old Spanish masters, painters painted to capture reality. Their tools were canvases and oils, and they masterfully stroked an illusion that captured either exact reality or commissioned hopefulness. Back in the days when oils were oils, and that meant you had something to paint with – reality was more or less reality, if you turned a blind eye to the manipulations of Royalty.
In today’s modern switched on connected world, “Oils ain’t Oils!” And nobody is sure about reality – real, imagined, virtual or otherwise.
McLuhan claims the “medium is the message“, and Shakespeare claimed that “All of the wold is a stage“. However Leonard might be proclaiming, not through the medium of Lego, but through the medium of Acrylic mimicking the play world of Lego, that time has come to find tools (extensions to thinking) that can deal with the mixed up double message of hyper reality and artificiality of layered hyper-reality.
Appealing to a Sense of Play
Leonard’s work can be interpreted from many levels. On the surface it is fun, and his depiction of Conceit could rival the best Batman movie for the “tied him to the railroad track”, appeal to overacted melodrama. On onother level, the questions he is asking represent a deep analysis of International politics.
The break through, avante garde value of Leonard’s work is that he used a medium dear to the hearts of all gender and ages. The illusory artistic world Leonard has created is an entry point for children to begin their journey towards a personal aesthetic. It is also an entry point for teachers and gallery curators to dialogue with children about the serious side of art, while still apealing to ther sense of play.
- Baichtal,J & Meno,J. (2011) The Cult of LEGO. Safari Books.
- LEGO a Toy or a Serious Thinking Extender?
- No Real Than You ST.ART Online Gallery
- Lego a Toy? Or a Serious Thinking Extender
Copyright Jo Murphy