Friday, February 02, 2007

Art Space Talk: Lucien Shapiro

I recently interviewed artist Lucien Shapiro. Lucien is best known for his installations and sculpted figures. He mainly shows work in the bay area but has been part of group shows in NY, Boston, and Los Angeles.
Mr. Shapiro is currently focusing on sculpture as a method of looking past reality towards a new day. The constant building upon building to reach the infinite point.

Q. When did you first discover that art would be an important part of your adult life?

A. "When it was the only thing answering the questions we face."

Q. How has society influenced your art? Are there any social implications in your art?

A. "I am influenced by the smallest detail, texture, or crumble. I am constantly trying to build an answer to the fantasy, or imaginative being to the part of society that can only open there mind so far. I try to open other worlds or plains. but many people are just frightened by what makes me laugh."

Q. On average, how long does it take you to create a piece?

A. "Well that all depends, I usually work on multiple pieces at once and depending on size becasue my stuff ranges from 2 inches to 6 feet. . But I try to finish 5-10 pieces every 3-4 months sometimes it goes quicker it just depends where my head is at."

Q. Can you share some of your philosophy about art and artistic creation?

A. "Just trying to make myself happy through creation. Just build and build until there is more to build again. Must not sleep."

Q. Has your art ever been published?

A. "I am working my first small book.zine. But i have had my stuff published in magazines. Cover of upcoming Refused magazine, and some stuff with x funs magazine in Taiwan. But i would love to eventually put out a hard cover book of my art."

Q. What was your most important exhibition? Care to share that experience?

A. "Every exhibition is as important as the next to me. And all the experiences are learning ones."

Q. Do you have any 'studio rituals'? As in, do you listen to certain types of music while working? What helps to get you in the mood for working?

A. "Definitiely music all types, and sometimes a background movie can halp get the work done. Definitiely coffee and is a big helper and just seeing unfinsihed stuff is inspiration enogh for me to get started. I cant really sit still I always have to be donig something."

Q. If you could pinpoint the characteristics of people who collect your art, what would they be?

A. "So far it has mainly been larger woman and gay men.. but also a lot of couples that are very excited about little creatures."

Q. Discuss one of your pieces. What were you thinking when you created it?

A. "One of my pieces that started a lot of my style is called chair dog (image above). He started as a human in a dog suit. On all fours screaming towards the sky. He was a character who then progressed into smaller hand made toys called champsters and yet even smaller ones called nano chair dogs. He is the most important character in my work. To me he asks where are we going and what the hell are we doing here. A constant reminder that along our paths we sometimes get lost but its the journey that is most important."

Q. Do you have a degree or do you plan to attend school for art? If so, how did it help you as an artist? What can you tell us about the art department that you attended?

A. "I have a BFA and one day will probably get my MFA. I had some good teachers but they were always quite unimpressed with my nonsense art. But I took all I could from the facilities and learned everything I could from it and the teachers that were open to me."

Q. Why did you choose the medium(s) that you use?

A. "I like to use a lot of found objects in my stuff and really the only way to keep these pieces held together strong enough is by using resins and glues. I choose to cast my hand made toys in resin, because it is most cost effective. and all my original stuff is made the way that best fits my message. A piece of junk to one person is a torso to me."

Q.Where can we see more of your art?


Q. Are you represented by a gallery? Do you have any upcoming exhibits?
A. "Currently I am not reprensented by a certain gallery I frequent some in LA and SF, but none solidly represent me. I have a group exhibit in April at the Trace Gallery in SF. I am always looking for new places to show my work."

Q. What trends do you see in the 'art world'?

A. "Well styles come and go, with clothes, art and music. So hopefully more and more people will stay open to the opetion of an alternate reality."

Q. Any tips for emerging artists?

A. "Make yourself happy, do it for no one other than yourself, and learn to cook cheap meals."

Q. Has your work ever been censored? If so, how did you deal with it?

A. "Yes, I get stuff pulled from galleries apparantly my stuff seems to be too scary for some people. It slighlty frusterates me because to me my stuff is funny, happy or cute. But hey at least im impacting some people one way or another."

Q. What was the toughest point in your career as an artist? Have you ever hit rock-bottom?

A. "Recently has been my low point but I've already dug my way out. I put everything is storage and took off driving across from califonia to NY and Canada, turned the trip into an art project and made my way back to California. I have been back for 3 months."

Q. In one sentence... why do you create art?

A. "It makes me happy."

Q. What can you tell our readers about the art scene in your area?

A. "Bay Area, California scene is a little of this a little of that."

Q. Has politics ever entered your art?

A. Once or twice.. I made a heatseeking Bush rocket. Also a lot of my pieces are on hands and knees thats kind of a representation of us always being pushed for our beliefs."
I hope that you have enjoyed my interview with Lucien Shapiro. Feel free to critique or discuss his work.
Take care, Stay true,
Brian Sherwin

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