If you think solving one Rubik's Cube is hard, how about cracking 280 of them? And doing so in about two and a half hours. Oh, and then creating a modern masterpiece with them.
This is how Andrey Maslov is spending his time in quarantine in Ivanovo, Russia. Are you now feeling decidedly inferior about your own efforts in isolation? Well, we'll add to that: he's 12 years old.
Andrey is a fan of "speedcubing", which, yes, is exactly what it sounds like, a hobby in which you can see just how fast you can solve a Rubik's cube.
Andrey can now do so in less than 10 seconds.
But, not content with simply being super speedy at cracking the notoriously difficult puzzle, Andrey has now gone one step further: using the cubes to recreate artistic masterpieces with his hastily solved Rubik's Cube – the results of which are truly incredible.
His most recent effort, a take on Banksy's Girl with Balloon, took him two and a half hours to complete, using 280 Rubik's Cubes.
He has now produced about 20 cube portraits in total.
Andrey's father, Dmitry Maslov, says the idea for the pieces came after Andrey began making pictures out of cubes with his friends over a year ago, which then grew to including cube posters for their competitions and holiday greetings.
The idea for this series was an extension of that, dreamed up as the family faced long days indoors during the coronavirus pandemic. They posted their first take, a portrait of the first man in space, Russian Yuri Gagarin, on the popular Facebook group Izoizolyacia, and it garnered tens of thousands of likes and comments.
Emboldened, a new hobby was born.
"We thought that creating a new picture was rather boring, we needed something special and fun. And I came across a new post of Banksy on Instagram with his 'homework'. And then I remembered his performance of 2018 when the Girl with Balloon was almost self-destructed at Sotheby's. Andrey and I checked the whole story and decided to remake it," Maslov says.
Maslov helps his son by creating a pixel layout of the picture on the computer, which takes about one hour. A wardrobe door is then used as the frame for the creation, and an old wooden suitcase as the prop it is constructed on top of. After the cubes are assembled and the picture is finished, Andrey pulls the suitcase away so the whole thing collapses.
As well as creating these artworks, Andrey also creates his own puzzles. He has designed cubes and a Pyraminx (also known as the triangle Rubik's Cube) for blind people, and created a magnetic 15-piece speed-sliding puzzle.
While many of the 400 Rubik's Cubes in his possession are from Andrey's speedcubing club, his own collection is pretty extensive itself.
He owns more than 70 puzzles, including cubes of different sizes (from 2x2x2 to 9x9x9) and shapes, Pyraminxes, Megaminxes (basically a dodecahedron-shaped face-turning Rubik's Cube) and much more.
And fittingly, his obsession grew from a very sentimental beginning.
"The first cube he solved himself, two years ago on a train to Budapest (the motherland of the Rubik’s cube) was the cube from my childhood," Maslov says.
However, Maslov has never learned to solve the cube himself – only one side.