Thinkspace Projects is thrilled to present Brian Viveros’s ‘MANIA‘. The CA-based artist best known for his highly detailed paintings of anti-pin-up doe-eyed ‘Woman of Power’ and his Dirtyland universe brings an entirely new body of work to the gallery.
MANIA is a tribute show, it’s a personal show, and it’s a bit of a journey taking viewers back in time to the things Viveros obsessed over as a kid, the things that ultimately drove the MANIA inside of him.
Our interview with Brian M. Viveros reveals stories behind the work, covers reflections on his artistic career, and provides a recommendation for the perfect spot to kick off a taco tour in San Diego.
MANIA pays tribute to the cultural influences that you obsessed over and inspired you in your youth, pulling references from various objects within your life – can you share any memories or anecdotes that directly tie to one of the pieces?
Shhhure. One story that comes to mind is with the Conan the Barbarian tribute piece I did for this show entitled ‘Barbarian.’ It’s kind of a messed up story, but funny – here it goes. I was 8 years old, and Conan comics were a big part of my life and my dad was a collector of Conan and everything Frazetta. I remember being in class & being called to the office, which at that time was a scary thing (push play on scary music theme now HA!) but back then, when you got called to the principal’s office, it was not good. They had told me a family member had passed away and that my father was outside waiting for me in the car. When I got to the car, I was kind of sad and confused and asked my Dad, who passed away, and he said, ‘nobody,’ we’re going to see Conan the Barbarian it opened today, and I was like…. hell Yeahh!!!
This show was an exercise in pushing yourself out of your comfort zone; what did that look like for you when developing this body of work? What new techniques did you develop? Were there any valuable failure moments?
Good question my friend; it actually had a lot to do with the size of the new location of your gallery. I felt this need and urge to go big and try new things. Sometimes space will do that to you. For me, I tend to plot things out in my mind and hold onto ideas for shows and hopefully, they’ll come to fruition. I’ve had this idea for a while about doing a MANIA show that would be a bit of a tribute show, and throwback to things that really moved me or I obsessed on as a kid. I even went back to using and incorporating some older mediums like spray paint for backgrounds and doing a set of pieces in gouache and watercolors. A lot of your readers may not know this but straight out of high school I opened the first graffiti hip-hop shop in the IE (Inland Empire) I was into spray painting and selling all the gear at that time in 93’. Anyhow, I brought back the can and cutting stencils for patterns, and things I use to do is now full circle with this set. As an artist, you grow and make mistakes in creating, its a good fuck up, and try something different & see what happens. Sometimes its a happy accident and sometimes it’s not, but you learn from it and move on
People feel extremely connected to your work, getting tattoos and dressing up as the women you paint for opening exhibitions. Has there been a fan experience or collector encounter that has really stuck with you?
I think it was the last show we did, ‘Tougher Than Leather’ a friend of mine, Christina Preiss, showed up in a full-on detailed head-to-toe Dia de Los Muertos Day of the Dead costume, and it just looked so RAD in the gallery. It created this awesome energy that night in the room. Something I’ll never forget and the people loved it
MANIA is your 7th solo exhibition with Thinkspace. Does this exhibition feel different, or do you have a similar emotional experience ahead of any show?
Feels a little different for me this time around just because the work is on a different level now. Thus far, with my DirtyLand ‘Woman of Power’ pieces, all the ones I’ve done throughout the years, it’s been about letting the viewer tell the story about these characters I’ve created. With MANIA, I’ve taken the narrator role, steering the Dirty-ship and taking you, the viewer, on a very personal journey.
When first developing your artistic voice, you wanted to ensure you had a distinct style that made it so if anyone saw one of your pieces; they immediately would know it was a Viveros – over your career, have you found the choices you made in the initial development to have been limiting or liberating?
In the initial development, I was focused on just the smoking thing, and the red rose thing and giving my girls a certain signature look with the eyes and teardrop tattoo and this anti-pinup Dirty world I was creating where all the girls would be tough warriors, survivors sporting helmets & headgear. I feel liberated in the sense that it’s no longer just about that. You still know it’s a Viveros without those specific elements. I’ve been doing it so long, and early on it was all about just the smoking with helmets, but it’s progressed – I’ve progressed. The DirtyLand no longer needs cigarettes and red roses for you to know it’s a Viveros. It’s like my audience has grown with me and I’m always thankful for them and their support and growing with my art.
If you could have any skill or topic downloaded into your brain, what would you want to be able to do/ be an expert at?
That’s an easy one for me – filmmaking, and that’s where I’m headed
If you could collaborate with any artists in any medium (i.e. movies, music, fashion), who would you collaborate with, and what would you be making?
I’d love to collaborate with Guillermo Del Toro or Alejandro Jodorowsky on a film. We would be making a surreal revenge film with a twist of sci-fi and horror. The main character would be a kick-ass chick, of course>;-)
Who are some women from cinema, pop culture, or literature who you think embody the qualities of the women in your work?
Some kick-ass women that come to mind that embody the qualities of my women would be Ripley from Alien, Sarah Connor from Terminator and Furiosa from Mad Max Fury Road, Spanish Flamenco Dancer Carmen Amaya, Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Blondie
What are qualities of significant women in your life that you admire and wish came more naturally to you?
Being a little more grounded for sure. I tend to be off in DirtyLandia land all the time. My mind is always racing and thinking, and now in my forties, I’m trying not to overthink shit so much and care so much. I think that happens in your forties HA!
You’re a big fan of tacos. If you could take 5 people, dead or alive, on a taco tour, who would be on the guest list, where would you go, and what would be ordered?
TACOMANIA!!!!! The five people I would take out for tacos in a taco van with a painted taco mural would be H.R. GIGER, The Beastie Boys – does that count as three ha!, Mike Dirnt he loves tacos like I love tacos, Picasso, and Bjork maybe that’s more than five we would drive to SALUD! in San Diego & few other hole in the wall spots in SD and sample all the tacos they offer. Always gotta try every places’ carnitas taco because they’re all so different. Then we’d all get drunk and have a break dancing contest on the street with LC DJing in the van Ha!
Opening on Saturday, October 29, from 6 – 11 pm with DJ’s Venice Beats, open bar + free drinks from Liquid Death, video projections from Digital Debris, installations from Balloonski, a vape bar from our friends at Timeless, live painting from Allison Bamcat, photo op props from GoopMassta, Day of the Dead stilt walkers, grub from The Roll N’ Bun + a Halloween costume contest with $500 top cash prize + loads of runner up prizes!!!
FREE poster commemorating ‘MANIA‘ given away to the first 200 patrons through the doors!
Exhibitions on view October 29 – November 19, 2022