Life came to a halt in March of 2020, and people stayed home for the first time to reconnect with their past and brood over things they had failed to do when their minds were pre-occupied with work and the humdrum of daily living. It certainly hit Leslie Araujo of PinoyLUG, the first Asian Ambassador of the Adult Fan of Lego (AFOL) in the Philippines, to do a privileged visit of the LEGO® House in Billund, Denmark for deserving RLUGs (Recognized LEGO® Users Group) seven months before it was opened to the public. The pandemic brought back to life a dream that haunted him from that visit in March of 2017. Leslie delighted and visualized a PinoyLUG display in the famous House of Brick someday, for the entire world to see. As to what LEGO® display that would be, however, was a furtive idea waiting to be discovered.
Cleaning his house during the pandemic lockdown in 2021, Leslie came across some old postcards with Fernando Amorsolo prints that belonged to his father who was a fan of the great painter. Leslie remembered conversations of his father and their relatives about their great grandfather, Rafael Araujo, Sr. and his wife, Augusta Tiongco who were both painters, and good friends of Amorsolo. In fact, Augusta took painting lessons from him at the University of the Philippines. The postcards and the memories sparked the idea of Leslie’s dream project for PinoyLUG. He would hide it under the code name AMOR. It would be a labor of love; the enormity and the significance of it for the Filipino nation would only be justified by the concerted efforts of PinoyLUG members and their love for LEGO®!
The idea was to choose three notable works of the Master to be transposed into LEGO® bricks mosaic art, by a PinoyLUG team working around each painting. Each team participant would be given a mysterious pattern to fill with the code name AMOR. When all the patterns were done, they would be collected and assembled at an appointed venue to complete the mosaic. Only then will the finished project be revealed as Project AMORsolo. Progress in the execution of Project AMOR went slow due to the rarity of shape and colors of the LEGO® bricks that could match those on the paintings, many of which had to be ordered from various sources abroad.
Amongst Amorsolo’s many obras, PinoyLUG picked the “Bayanihan”, “Dalagang Bukid” and “Early Traders” for reasons closely associated with the group’s mission of spreading the message of LEGO® beyond what it is known for; to create communities that build and share together, promoting the Filipino’s culture in creativity through diverse team activities.
It may have been just a coincidence or divine providence that led Leslie to the postcards that his father had kept through the years, but 2022 marks the 50th anniversary of Fernando Amorsolo as the first recipient of the Philippines Order of National Artists in Visual Arts. His masterful use of light, calm and natural composition of everyday life are truly remarkable and complements the LEGO® ideal of creativity, artistry, and joy – shared by everyone from one generation to the next.
The Project AMORsolo exhibit will be at the CCP (Cultural Center of the Philippines) from April 29 – May 29, 2022 (Tuesday to Sunday | 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM). It will also have a public run at the malls and hopefully, an international tour as well.
Leslie’s dream may yet come to reality at the LEGO® House in Billund.