Clearing the Road, Kandahar Province, Afghanistan
by Josh Bernstein
Collect your choice of gallery quality Giclée, or fine art prints custom trimmed by hand in a variety of sizes with a white border for framing.
The idea of war has always intrigued me on a sentimental, emotional, and intellectual level. Throughout my life, I have had the privilege of hearing many stories from my grandfather and great uncle of their firsthand experiences through World War II and Vietnam. The things that they talked about were the day to day events. When I would ask about a specific battle or firefights they encountered, their faces would change to show a stoic, emotionless expression. The whole mood of the conversation would change, and you could feel the remorse and reluctance in some of the things they did. As they both said, "It was what we had to do. It was either us or them".
This series incorporates the use of Legos to portray all of those involved in each scene because there is a universality in the Lego mini figures. The heads, torsos, and headwear are all interchangeable. I see these little plastic figures as a representation of humans in every country, of every social, economic, or political stance, and of any religious background. By using these mini figures, the difference between a German soldier and a Jewish civilian is the ability to swap out a torso with a Nazi uniform decal and a black suit with a yellow Star of David on it. In a broader sense, the use of Legos in this series deals with an understanding of the Human Condition; what it is exactly that sets one individual apart from others.
The direction of this series is different than my previous works which incorporate a methodical manipulation of paint with various brushes upon a canvas. I wanted this series to be grungy and represent graffiti and poster covered alleyways; while also appearing to be old photographs battered by time and age. The graffiti theme led me to the stencil and spray paint application atop the antique advertisements and wallpaper subsurface. The repetitious patterns in the Lego plates coupled with the patterns evident in the wallpaper creates a complementary symbiosis.
The incorporation of these childhood toys into the process of my paintings allows me the ability to build mature and grim scenes, whether they be the war torn streets of Europe during World War II, the bloodied jungles of Vietnam, to the car bomb blasts of many of the streets in the Middle East right now.