Today, September 26th, at Guerrero Gallery, San Francisco is an artist talk with Ben Venom and Lucien Shapiro about their new work and studio practice. The artist talk is free, and begins at 7pm. Below are some words about their exhibitions currently on view ’til September 29th.
Ben Venom “Piece Of Mind”
“Piece of Mind” is an exhibition of new works by Ben Venom. “Piece of Mind” is the artist’s second solo exhibition at the gallery. Working with repurposed materials to create textile-based pieces, Venom contrasts the often menacing and aggressive counterculture elements of biker gangs, metal music and the occult with the comforts of domesticity. His collision of traditional quilting techniques with textiles tied to the fringes of society re-envisions the story of the material through a softer lens.
Made within the past year, the roughly fifteen works exhibited in Piece of Mind feature both the introduction of new materials into Venom’s process as well as greater intricacy in his designs. Denim and Leather are brought together in large-scale quilts and motorcycle jackets. Referencing the acid wash trends of the 1980’s, Venom hand bleached nearly all of the denim used in the show. Used leather jackets and Harley Davidson apparel appear alongside his staple of heavy metal t-shirts. The viewer is assaulted with imagery of soaring eagles, charging tigers, whips and chains. All bets are off wherever you may roam.
Lucien Shapiro “Vessel”
“Vessel” is composed of a collection of new works by Lucien Shapiro. This body of work includes various masks and corresponding vessels, coincides with specific rituals personal to Shapiro’s experiences and reflections in life. Presented are themes related to the daily hustle, the seeking of light, confronting fears, realizing strength, the longing for a partner, and dealings with rejection. The masks provide a personal shield from realities; the vessels are representative of discovered or learned antidotes; and the rituals express an examination, acknowledgement, and passage of inner struggles. Through personal rituals, we’re able to experience reflective and intoxicating healing and cleansings of the soul.
By way of the Sinking Boats Belly Ritual, which is performed after one has recently been rejected or heart-broken, the mask-wearer is able to release pain and find solace. The ritual entails a dance under which the mask wearer’s head spasms and limp limb motions mimic beating oneself over the head or against something. Progressively, like an ungraceful beast, a hurling flurry of pin-wheeling and undulating arms ensues. Filled with ice water and positioned on the floor below the mask wearer, the Rusting Red Vessel, is emptied upon oneself, cleansing and rejuvenating.
Another ritual presented by Shapiro in the exhibition is a take on the modern man’s hustle. The Hustler’s Hooded Cloud Mask, adorned with what the wearer must push in order to carry on, is a showcase of the hustler’s supply. The Green Encompassed Vessel represents the mask wearer’s bank; It has no bottom, showing how currency seems to be continually spent immediately after it is made. The Purple Piece Cloud Vessel, a ceremonial pipe, represents the consumption of goods and evidences the expected nuances associated with the hustler-client relationship.
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