The bullfight has always been a ritual of extreme occult significance, heavily loaded with allegory. The primary meaning of the bullfight concerns the triumph of man over our own primal nature. Los Angeles based artist Brian Viveros, featured here, sees the bull and the sexy fighters of his upcoming exhibition “Matador” at Thinkspace Gallery as one and the same. While he thinks of the fight as a cruel tradition, he finds power and inspiration in its symbolism. We recently visited with Viveros at his Dirtyland studio to go behind the scenes of his matador-inspired exhibition, one of his most researched and dynamic bodies of work to date.
In preparation for the exhibit, Viveros has surrounded himself with mementos and artifacts from bullfighting culture. His paintings are draped in red capes, on his desk there is a matador’s ontera, and he even scored an original fighter’s ensemble on eBay. Called traje de luces (or the “suit of lights”), the surprisingly tiny outfit is adorned with gold ornamentation, violently pierced with holes and blood stains from a real fight. Throughout, Viveros borrows colors from the traje de luces, sometimes engulfing his subjects in red, fiery flames, or giving their eyes a glint of gold. The golds in the suit symbolizes the sun, light, and fire, all of which are synonymous with each other. While the sun represents the heart, fire has the power to destroy, and thus, the matador must control the fires within her own heart.
In true Viveros fashion, his matador is designed as the epitome of female strength; decorated with tattoos, donning her Everlast boxing head gear and smoking her signature Arturo Fuente cigars. There is an added intensity in her gaze, evoking the animalism that resides in all of us, which Viveros softens with a cool, subdued color palette and floral detailing. Quite literally, she is dressed to kill. Alongside his paintings, Viveros plans to exhibit the suit and a limited edition wall bust, currently being sculpted by local design house Pretty in Plastic. Take a look at more photos from our visit to Brian Viveros’ Dirtyland below.