Jan van Schaik: Lost Tablets: Salon Projects

15 April - 22 May 2021



Jan van Schaik's Lost Tablets is a series of objects that express a tension between a universally recognisable children’s toy and the grammar of architectural semiotics. Some years ago whilst the artist was walking around the base of the Parthenon in Athens, he noticed, clearly discernible in its base, remnants of the great monument’s former iterations, scarred by the battles that violently transformed them from architecture to rubble. So too, the blocks of these found Lego pieces bear the marks and discolouring left on them by their former owners before putting them up for sale on the second hand market. Discolouration, writing, dirt, glue and even teeth marks are evident on the found blocks, and expressed in the new object.


Each of the works in the series has the same overall dimension, a dynamic face, and a sheer face. The architecture of the sheer face is bound by the tension between the new profile of the tablet, and the varying surface qualities of the found blocks, each with the markings of its own history. The architecture of the dynamic face is bound together by the tension between the expectation of what a Lego composition would usually prescribe, and the language of an imagined collective architectural unconscious. The strange resonant familiarity of the tablets oscillates between the platonic, almost primal, recognisability of Lego, and the architectural grammar of the city caves of Matera, the churches of Borromini, the arches of the Doge’s palace in Venice, the buttresses of Gothic cathedrals, and the blue ceilings of the Shah Mosque of Isfahan.