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.

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