LEGO-fied Amorsolo artwork finds its way back home to historic Manila Hotel

Published December 1, 2022, 11:07 AM

by Feliciano Rodriguez III

Project AMORsolo exhibit at The Manila Hotel Art Gallery (Photo by Richard Lo)

“It is our way of thanking them for their support. In a way, it’s like giving back, and for the artwork, it’s just like going home,” shared Leslie Leshen Araujo, president and LAN (LEGO Ambassador Network) ambassador of PinoyLUG (LEGO User Group).

MB Lifestyle Online was chatting with the LEGO enthusiast regarding the latest venue of the well-received Project AMORsolo. From Nov. 29, 2022, to Jan. 15, 2023, three LEGO-fied works by revered national artist for the visual arts, Fernando Amorsolo, will be on display at The Manila Hotel.

Lego-fied “Early Traders (1959)” (Photo by Richard Lo)

Amorsolo’s original “Early Traders (1959),” which generations of Manila Hotel guests enjoyed over the years, will find its LEGO-fied twin right at home. The original art piece is located at the hotel lobby.

Two other masterpieces of Amorsolo were turned into LEGO mosaics by the masterful hands of PinoyLUG members – ”Bayanihan (1959)” and “Dalagang Bukid (1958).” PinoyLUG also collaborated with the Fernando C. Amorsolo Foundation for Project AMORsolo.

Leslie Araujo – PinoyLUG President and LAN Ambassador — PinoyLUG President and LAN Ambassador Leslie Araujo (photo by Jason Quibilan)

Passion Project

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Araujo was cleaning his family house when he encountered old postcards decorated with artworks of Fernando Amorsolo. He then recalled fondly how his father was a huge admirer of the artist.

Leslie also remembered conversations between his late father and their relatives on how their great grandfather Rafael Araujo Sr., and his wife, Augusta Tiongco, were good friends with Amorsolo.

Indeed, Augusta was a former student of the revered national artist at the University of the Philippines.

Lego-fied “Dalagang Bukid (1958)” (Photo by Richard Lo)

“I was rifling thru those postcards, and then the idea came to me,” said Araujo. “This is it. This is going to be PinoyLUG’s next big project. My LEGO family will work together to pay homage to this great Filipino artist.”

The journey was not easy. From sourcing the LEGO parts abroad, to creating and organizing the patterns needed for the LEGO mosaics, the PinoyLUG team had their work cut out for them. “You have to remember, we started the project in the middle of the pandemic. So moving around and ordering items were extremely difficult. Alejandro Ryan Chua was of great help, he handled logistics and the ordering of LEGO elements online, while Klark Villanueva oversaw patternmaking. And then Michael John Ng Cha and Jefferson Herrera was in charge of the framing and mobilization of Project AMORsolo”

The end result is a fitting tribute to the works of the great artist. It is great timing to be sure, as the year 2022 also marks the 50th anniversary of Fernando Amorsolo’s recognition as a national artist. Indeed, Amorsolo was the first person to receive the Philippine Order of National Artists in Visual Arts and is fondly called the “Grand Old Man of Philippine Art.” This year also marks the 130th year after his birth.

The Manila Hotel poster

Dreaming of Denmark

“The aim, from the start, is to really bring these works to Denmark, to the home of LEGO,” continued Araujo. “That’s the goal. To present our art to the world – to showcase our skills, culture, and artistry. And what’s better than to get to display it at the LEGO House in Billund, Denmark?”

Araujo has been dreaming of that day since he first visited the LEGO House in 2017, before it formally opened to the public. And now, with the success of Project AMORsolo, that dream is slowly coming to fruition.

Lego-fied “Bayanihan (1959)”

“The exhibit has been popular. We made the rounds this year, from Bulwagang Carlos V. Francisco at the Cultural Center of the Philippines to Power Plant Mall, and recently to Chiang Kai Shek College. This is our dream, to democratize art, and to promote the values of LEGO – creativity, camaraderie, inclusivity, and social responsibility.”

For PinoyLUG and Araujo, it’s next stop, Denmark!

The Christmas Tree at The Manila Hotel (Photo by Richard Lo)

Project AMORsolo is a unique and original concept of PinoyLUG transposing three great works of Fernando Amorsolo into remarkable masterpieces in LEGO bricks mosaic art. The exhibit is part of the commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of Amorsolo’s proclamation as the first National Artist of the Philippines in Visual Arts. Project AMORsolo will be on exhibit at the Manila Hotel Arty Gallery from Nov. 29, 2022, to Jan. 15, 2023.