Interview with Brian M. Viveros for “Tougher Than Leather”

Thinkspace is pleased to present Tougher Than Leather our fifth solo-exhibition with Brian M. Viveros. The dynamic show will present some of Viveros’s largest and most accomplished paintings to date. His phenomenally detailed and hyper-realistic paintings create a world that is a complete universe unto itself.

In anticipation of Tougher Than Leather, our interview with Brian M. Viveros discusses his new body of work, best place to get tacos, and some solid life advise.

SH: We have some solid interviews with you for past exhibitions, Matador and Dirtyland, but for those that are not familiar with you and your work, can you give us a brief look at your artistic background and zodiac sign?

BV: Sure, my name is Brian M. Viveros. My art is rooted in a world introduced to me by my father, who was always drawing, he showed me Frazetta, fantasy art, Conan the Barbarian comics and took me to wrestling and boxing matches as a kid. Pretty much everything he introduced me to would later play out in my paintings, becoming aesthetic components for the ‘Dirtyland’ world I’ve created today. I have no formal art training, I didn’t go to art school, but all of these components from my childhood have shaped me as an artist – my childhood fixations, my open mindedness to fantasy, and my Hispanic upbringing. When I decided to pursue the fine art thing with paintings of these kick-ass Woman of Power, using all of these elements that I surrounded myself and grew up with,  things just came together.

My Zodiac killer sign is SCORPIO.

SH: What is the inspiration and themes you explored for this body of work?

BM: The show is titled ‘Tougher Than Leather,’ featuring a new body of work that is very personal to me. I’d been through a lot these past couple years losing my father, my grandmother and my dog. I wanted to do something that was dedicated to the fighter in all of us, inspired by those that are fighting for their lives, fighting inner demons and fighting cancer. This new body of work took me into new directions with themes of battle, new warriors and it’s my first time presenting elements from my world as their’ own piece like ‘Sacred Gloves’ which is a detailed rendering of boxing gloves that form an anatomical heart wrapped in rose thorns.

SH: Is there a particular piece in this exhibition you feel really challenged you? If so, why and what makes you proud of this piece.

BV: I think I’m gonna have to say the most challenging piece is the large-scale bullfighting piece entitled ‘Tame The Beast’ which features my iconic matador in battle with a raging bull. I’m very proud of this piece on so many levels because it has pushed me beyond the normal portraiture format I’m used to, it allowed me to create this full epic scene I’ve had in mind for some time now. I’m proud to see this piece come to life.

SH: Who are some of your favorite artists in the scene, or in a different medium altogether?

BV: I dig what Michael Reeder’s doing and his use of color and shapes. I dig what my homie Dan Quintana is doing, he’s always inspiring to me and I’m diggin’ Ken Flewellyn’s new set of work for this show, he KILLED IT!

SH: A Netflix movie is being made about your life, who would be cast to play you and what kind of movie would it be? Try to describe it with similar movies.

BV: Hmmm, I can’t see a real person playing me but I like this question. I like the idea of a film about me being a stop motion animation in the style of the Brothers Quay films, mixed with a touch of some live action. It would be a super surreal visual journey of a little kid exploring his artistic life and mind, going through different doors in his head; a combination of Alejandro Jodorowsky’s ‘The Holy Mountain’ and Pink Floyd’s ‘The Wall’ on acid HA!

SH: What is the best technical advice you’ve received in regards to painting / being an artist? What is the best philosophical advice you’ve received?

BV: My father always told me to work hard for what you want and believe in what you’re doing. Even when others doubt you and don’t believe in you, you must always believe in yourself. He would also say “create your own worlds” and I always liked that. I also love this advice from Andy Warhol, “Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.” That always drives me to just focus and not worry about what’s going on out in the real world.

SH: Are you a podcast, tv/ movie streaming service, or music in the background type of painter? What were you listening to during the development of this show that you would recommend to others?

BV: Both! I like to play movies and music at the same time. I like sounds, I like noise, I like things turned on. While working on this show I was listening to a lot of the new Tool album, some old DJ Shadow stuff, the first Interpol album, The Cactus Channel, some Ravel, classical and some weird underground sounds my friend sent to me. Podcasts I’ve been digging are Joe Rogan, The Lonely Palette, Chet Zar’s Dark Art Society, and Grilling JR that’s a wrestling one HA!

SH: What do you think the role of artists in society? How does other artwork inform how you move through life?

BV: Through art we are connected and united, through art  we are free and not alone. Through the experience of being an artist, inspiration comes from everything and other artists all the time. It’s like a constant need or an addiction to create and want more and see more. It helps you to grow and keeps me inspired.

SH: What is the coolest or most exciting thing to happen to you thus far in life and is it because of or connected to your work?

BV: The most exciting thing to happen thus far is connected to my art, it happened after my first solo exhibition in Switzerland back in 2005. It will always be and remain, the most surreal magical day of my life, being invited to spend the day with my favorite artist H.R. Giger in his home in Zurich. To this day I still can’t believe that happened. He was so nice, we traded prints and I got to sit in the alien chair and see everything in person that I had only seen in books as a kid. It will always be something very special to me and a day I will never forget.

SH: Fun Hypothetical: A world-renowned chef wants to make a dish inspired by your artwork and favorite food. What would be the dishes ingredients and what is it similar too?

BV: HA! That’s a good one! Probably would have to be a taco, everyone knows my deep love for tacos so here it is ‘The DirtyTaco.’ It would be simple and tasty carnitas because I love me some good carnitas and you don’t need a lot for a good taco. It would taste like the tacos from SALUD! in San Diego, made with homemade tortillas. As a variation, we could serve a taco salad, with a crispy taco shell helmet like in my paintings. HA! I think I just jumped the shark with that one HAHA!!

Join us for the opening of Tougher Than Leather Saturday, October 12th from 6 – 9 pm.

Ken Flewellyn Presents New Body of Work in “Shine”

On view concurrently in the Thinkspace project room is Shine, featuring new works by Los Angeles based artist, and Thinkspace family veteran, Ken Flewellyn. A realist painter fascinated by the intersection of diverse cultures, personal histories, and Hip Hop, Flewellyn creates portraits of women that challenge our assumptions about identity and cultural homogeneity.

Inspired by his lifelong love of Hip Hop and his coming of age as a boy during its golden age in the 80s, Flewellyn’s work has always been about music and its impact on his personal vantage point and outlook on the world. As a cultural form, Hip Hop emerged from a localized cultural moment only to evolve into a variegated and international form that would systemically embrace the freedom of appropriation, and the complexity of multiple voices. This idea of cultural heterogeneity has influenced recurring themes in his imagery and has shaped his belief in the positive power of cultural mash-up.

Borrowing motifs and inspiration from Japanese culture and aesthetics, a visual influence in his home since childhood, Flewellyn often depicts women in traditional Japanese garb, silks, and kimonos. The subjects, however, remain anonymous, visible only by hands, body, and gestures, seldom, if ever, are faces or individuals revealed in their entirety. The subject’s identity, as a result, is relayed by the presence of revelatory objects, tattoos, and accessories – external clues that point to something beyond the seen and allow for the aesthetic to prevail over individuation or the distraction of specificity. That being said, however, Flewellyn depicts real women based on actual people – friends, and strangers – anchoring his imagery in reality rather than unrealistic idealizations.

The juxtaposition of formal cultural garb and pop-cultural accouterments keeps the work fascinating. These tightly cropped compositions are always informed by the presence of Hip Hop imagery, whether in the form of boom boxes, tapes, gold chains or typography. Playful and energized with tactility and detail, they’re both sensual and contemporary – solemn and light. Each painting featured in Shine is adorned with the sumptuousness of gold and includes hidden Hip Hop references to its golden age throughout, all as an ode to the genre that has never lost its shine.

Opening Reception: Saturday, October 12th 6-9 PM

On view: October 12, 2019 – November 2, 2019

Brian M. Viveros Presents New Body of Work in “Tougher Than Leather”

Thinkspace is honored to present Tougher Than Leather, our fifth solo exhibition with Brian M. Viveros. This highly anticipated solo show, opening October 12, is the first comprehensive presentation of all new work by the artist in almost four years in the Los Angeles area, and will feature some of Viveros’ largest and most accomplished paintings to date. The epic gallery takeover will showcase 15 new paintings, new pastel works, charcoal on paper, collaborative works with Sandra Chevrier and Ken Flewellyn, a new print edition, a free poster for the 1st 200 patrons to visit the opening reception, a new limited edition enamel pin (the artist’s first), a site-specific installation, a new sculpture, and we will be publishing a 60-page exhibition catalog in support of the show. Tougher Than Leather promises something magical for all of his Dirty Troops, new and old.

The artist’s well-known “bad-girls” emerge stronger than ever in Tougher Than Leather, embodying the tenacity and fight that it has taken Viveros to get through the past few years that have been wrought with personal struggles. Having recently lost many prominent members of his close-knit family, the resolve it took the artist to weather this storm pulses through his new body of work with a power that is palpable.

Known for his phenomenally detailed and hyper-realistic paintings, Viveros’ world is a complete universe unto itself. The “Dirtyland,” well-known by Viveros fans and collectors, plays host to a long cast of recurring female characters; part vixen, part superhero and all bad-ass. These unapologetic survivors, often bloodied and bandaged, smoking and defiant, have the battle scars to boast their warrior worth.

Viveros has pushed his execution of detail to new extremes while continuing to expand his palette Incorporating stark tonal contrasts between warm and cool hues, crimson reds, lush pastels and brilliant blues and shimmering golds, to bring minute textural details to life. Tougher Than Leather also delivers Viveros’s most complex work to date, ‘Tame The Beast’, showcasing one of his iconic Matadors captured for the first time ever in her full glory, in the midst of battle with a raging bull. Filled with firsts, this special showcase also includes ‘EviLAst!’, the artist’s largest and most complex sculpture to date and serves as the exhibition’s showstopper. This exciting new piece perfectly captures the ferocity and beauty of the Dirtyland, incorporating signature elements from several of the artist’s past iconic paintings.

Tougher Than Leather is dedicated to the fighter in all of us. All that are fighting for their lives, fighting their inner demons and fighting the evil that is cancer. The artist’s iconic warrior women are emblematic of their refusal to submit; tough but sensual, they embody the courage of the feminine as empowered Victor. These heroes cannot be broken. They bleed, they fight, they are Tougher Than Leather.

Please join us for the opening reception this October 12 and be sure to wear your dirty best. All those attending in a costume that celebrates one of Brian’s iconic characters will have a strong chance of being included in the opening night recap featured within the exhibition catalog for Tougher Than Leather that will follow shortly after the exhibition has come to an end. Viveros will be in attendance and the opening is free and open to all. Come celebrate with us.

Opening Reception: Sat., October 12th, 6 – 9 PM

On view: October 12, 2019 – November 2, 2019

“LAX / MSY” at Red Truck Gallery

Thank you to all that came through Red Truck Gallery this past Saturday to support the opening celebration of our big “LAX / MSY” group exhibition we curated for the beautiful people of New Orleans to enjoy!

Over 100 works will be on view through August 30, don’t miss your chance to check them out in person if you find yourself in the French Quarter this month. Many thanks again to the entire Red Truck crew for a fun-filled week in NOLA!

LAX – MSY: Thinkspace Invades New Orleans

‘LAX / MSY’
Curated by Thinkspace
Taking Place At: Red Truck Gallery
940 Royal Street New Orleans, Louisiana 70116
**In the heart of the French Quarter**

Opening Reception: Saturday, August 10 from 6-10PM
**Dirty Linen Night**

Excited to get down to New Orleans for the first time ever and partner with our good friends at Red Truck Gallery this coming August. Over 100 artists will be taking part in “LAX / MSY” in what will be the largest collection of artists from the New Contemporary Movement under one roof to date in the south.

All the artists have been asked to work within the same space confines of 12×12 inches (30×30 cm) and left to their own devices from there. We’re excited to see the results and share them with you all this August. This collection helps to showcase just how vast and varied the Movement is, from portrait based works to the more fantastical, from landscapes to design based abstract works… “LAX / MSY” promises to bring your Instagram feed to life and expose you to your new favorite artist.

We are excited to be bringing down ABCNT and Spenser Little to add some flavor to the French Quarter as well as add some nice touches throughout the exhibition itself. Looking forward to seeing what these two creatives come up with. Featuring Installations from: ABCNT & Spenser Little

12×12 inch (30×30 cm) works from: ABCNT, Abigail Goldman, Adam Caldwell, Ador, Alex Garant, Alex Yanes, Alexandra Manukyan, Allison Sommers, Alvaro Naddeo, Amy Sol, Anthony Hurd, Anthony Solano, Baldur Helgason, Benjamin Garcia, Brad Woodfin, Brian Mashburn, Bryan Valenzuela, Caratoes, Carl Cashman, Carlos Ramirez, Casey Weldon, Chase Mullen, Chloe Becky, Collin Van Der Sluijs, Craig ‘Skibs’ Barker, Crash One, Cristian Blanxer, Daniel Bildodeau, Darcy Yates, David Cooley, David Rice, Derek Gores, Drew Young, Edith Lebeau, Eduardo F. Angel, Eelus, Egg Fiasco, Ermsy, Fafi, Fernando Chamarelli, Fumi Nakamura, Hanna Lee Joshi, Huntz Liu, JC Rivera, Jeremy Hush, Josie Morway, Kathy Ager, Kayla Mahaffey, Kelogsloops, Kelly Vivanco, Kelsey Beckett, Ken Nwadiogbu, Kevin Peterson, Kobusher, Koz Dos, Kyle Bryant, Lauren YS, Leon Keer, Linsey Levendall, Lisa King, Lonac, Louis Masai, Luke Chueh, Mando Marie, Marie-Claude Marquis, Martin Whatson, Martine Johanna, McKenzie Fisk, Meggs, Molly Gruninger, Nicola Caredda, Nomad Clan, Nosego, Nuno Viegas, OakOak, Olga Esther, The Perez Bros, PREF, Rachel Strum, Ricky Watts, Roos van der Vliet, Ryan Malley, Samuel Rodriguez, Sean Chao, Sepe, Sergio Garcia, Seth Armstrong, Spenser Little, Stephanie Buer, Stikman, Super A, Superdeux, Telmo Miel, Terry Arena,TMRWLND, Troy Lovegates, Wiley Wallace, Woes, Yok & Sheryo, Yosuke Ueno, Yusei Abe Zezão