Spanish winner of Gothenburg Art21 Christo Guelov has begun commissioning the painting of a LEGO Bridge in Sweden’s second largest city. His installation is part of a larger project called “Let’s Colour Gothenburg,” which aims to unite Gothenburg by working with unemployed youths to paint the city.
The Älvsborg Bridge, a suspended bridge which connects the northern and southern parts of the city, originally constructed in 1966, is due to get a makeover by Guelov and his crew. The bridge’s pylons are being painted to look like brick-shaped LEGO blocks in an attempt to make the city of Gothenburg more colorful.
Guelov joined a number of other artists who also won the Gothenburg Art21 competition in showcasing their projects, all of which are geared towards making the city more “colorful and playful,” to use the words of the competition’s jurists. Beyond adorning the city with bright installations, the competition’s mother organization, “Let’s Colour Gothenburg” also sees the competition as a way to engage the city’s youths in community development.
As a part of the project’s aim to give the otherwise gray city a touch of life through color, the competition’s winners are teaming up with unemployed youths to teach them how to paint while simultaneously giving them space to leave their footprint in their neighborhoods. According to a report by the Swedish Public Employment Service, registered unemployed youths between the ages of 18 and 24 currently stands at 9.1% of the entire work force. Gothenburg stands behind Stockholm, which has 6.6% youth unemployment, and ahead of Malmö, which has 20.3% youth unemployment.
Guelov’s LEGO-bridge crosses paths with other works that have used LEGO as both as a material and as an urban aesthetic. Bjarke Ingels’ LEGO House, which opened in Denmark earlier this year, joins LEGO’s practice of releasing miniature models made of the small plastic building blocks.
The LEGO Bridge joins a number of other projects that won the Gothenburg Art21 competition, all geared towards engaging the youth with art installations and urban renovation in the city. Among the other projects is Thaigo Mazza’s “We are Nature” mural, which is plastered on the side of a building in Gothenburg. The jury noted that Mazza’s piece was a nicely orchestrated piece and that its colors contrasted well with Sweden’s gloomy weather. The art piece is akin to Guelov’s in that it actively engages both the painters who installed the mural and passerby with the physical structures.
But Gothenburg isn’t the only city witnessing a colorful revival. Earlier this year, the Dutch city of The Hague got fitted with Piet Mondrian’s iconic red, blue, yellow, and white grids to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the De Stijl movement. The initiative was led by a group of architect campaigners better known as Vollaerszwart, who transformed select buildings into tableaus of the late Dutch artist. Mondrian, who come up with the iconic design composed of a grid of vertical and horizontal black lines and the three primary colors on a white background, was one of the developers of analytic Cubism and Cubist collage alongside Pablo Picasso.