Photo by Birdman
When California based painter Brian M. Viveros debuted his “Matador” series last year, he unleashed a side of his sultry, smokey-eyed vixens that hadn’t been seen before. His subjects still exuded the sexiness that the “Dirtyland” artist has become known for, but clad in painstakingly detailed and shining clothing inspired by the iconic bullfighter, they held a newfound sense of passion and fire.
Viveros found himself drawn to the details of their fashion in particular, pulling inspiration from the fighter’s traje de luces (or the “suit of lights”), a visual metaphor for the fires within the matador’s own heart. Fashion has played a symbolic role in Viveros’ imagery since his first “Dirtyland” paintings. His matador is an icon that expands from his “mad, mad world of smoking troops”, images of cigar-smoking women in devil-horned and Mickey Mouse-eared helmets, ready for battle. The helmet represents strength to Viveros who flips the roles previously given to men in traditional portraiture, and replaces them with tough women.
Photo by Birdman
For his upcoming solo at SCOPE New York, his first east coast showing since 2012, Viveros sought to channel the toughness and splendor from his “Matador” series in a new body of work. His new paintings and charcoal drawings employ higher levels of saturated colors, use of patterns, and detailing that give his subjects an added intensity. In contrast to the severity of her bloody and scratched gear and weaponry, Viveros decorates each woman with a delicate Dia De Los Muertos-inspired rose and skulls, motifs that have become a signature of his portraits- just don’t be fooled by their seductive glares. “They are not victims in any way,” Viveros says, “they are heroines”, and the blood that splatters them is from a battle that has been won.