ICONICA: Viveros – ‘Smoking Girls’ series

In case I haven’t mentioned it in the last five minutes, I am completely enamored by the work of Viveros, in particular his Smoking Girls series.

Every piece I have had the pleasure to view from this series has ticked every single box for me; each single work is exquisite, dark, brooding and delicious. Take, for example:

It seems that these works are quite polarizing in the broader artistic community; audiences either really appreciate the dark subject matter or are offended by the perceived ‘glamour’ of his subjects smoking.

Seems that no matter what your stance on that ‘wicked stick’ is, whether it be cigarettes, cigars or the reefer, seeing it ‘glamourised’ in art brings a whole new set of taboos to the fore; perhaps what Viveros was aiming for in the first place.

I think what is apparent if you delve deeper, is that the smoking girls are given an edge by the very fact that they are smoking.  We start to question the character of the piece beyond the surface aesthetics, of which there are many; these girls are all horrendously siren-like yet hiding some darkness underneath their hard hats, weapons and ravenesque manes.  We start to wonder….who is this girl exactly? What is her motivation…what has got her so pissed off?

There’s no hiding that these girls are brilliantly rendered in shades of sexy, tough and fierce; when taken into context and appreciated within the landscapes that the girls are placed in – blazing with war-like scenery, battle scars and heavy artillery – the viewer can really gain an understanding beyond pure face value.

This ain’t just simply a smoking gal.  This is some layered dame; world-weary, tough, defiant.  Crying blood and pouting smoke from a perfectly stained pair of lips. Shattering the rules and mores of her surroundings and her time, spitting in the face of what her oppressors try to constrain her to.

Deathproof and ready for round two.




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