It isn't often that works of art have the potential to hurt you, but a large portion of Lucien Shapiro's sculptures currently on view at MAIA Contemporary in Mexico City take the form of familiar weapons. Blunt clubs, pointed daggers, and spiked bats alongside a frightening set of ritualistic masks fill the gallery as Shapiro's works titled Urban Obsessions.
Although they certainly look like and resemble weapons, Shapiro doesn't consider his sculptures as such. "I have not created or labeled anything in the show as a weapon," the artist tells Creators. "I create protection pieces, mainly utilized to help one harness a power of protection within themselves. Just placing it on the wall can give the viewer or patron a sense of protection over their home or family."
The materials Shapiro uses to make these protection pieces evoke a sense of benevolence rather than overt aggression or violence. The unsharpened decorative studs, quartz crystals, and assorted minerals used in the sculptures are more adept at decoration than inflicting harm. The artist states that these minerals and natural materials "help to cleanse and bring protection, love, and healing," adding that he made them "with the intention that they will never be used to harm any other human or living being."
Beyond the physical materials used to make the works, a series of "immaterial materials" are listed in the checklist of the works: Fluorite Protection Shank has "Love" in its material composition while Quartz White Protection Small Bat incorporates "Love" and "Strength".
As one might suspect, these materials serve as a conduit for the artist's life philosophy. "I would hope that these 'immaterial materials' are present in every object and human ever created," Shapiro explains. "I believe anything made from hate and negative experiences usually brings blood death, tears, and fear. I am simply putting positive energy into these works."
As for the primal masks that incorporate brass knuckles and drug baggies to make ritualistic shapes, the intention behind them is somewhat different. "I started making the masks after a break up. They were made to represent the lies, fears, and confusion that this person had while leaving the relationship," says Shapiro. "The protection pieces were made to represent the walls and shields I needed to build for myself to overcome this heartbreak," he adds. "Everything else continued on from this start."
Check out Urban Obsessions at MAIA Contemporary in Mexico City, on view until July 1st. More of Lucien Shapiro's eclectic body of work can be seen here.