Brazilian illustrator and visual artist Victor Liborio AKA Quimera has been making waves across social media with his elaborate, maximalist illustrations of neo-byzantine outfits on queer bodies. They’re futuristic and other-worldly as much as they are erotic and bizarre, and have appeared on digital collaborations with world-famous drag queens such as Pabllo Vittar, Aquaria, and Violet Chachki. “I think the first time I saw a sparkle in my eyes with the possibility of drawing was when I was around eight years old,” Victor tells It’s Nice That. “I saw this girl in my school drawing a mermaid, almost all using round forms and circles to create the character, and I don't know why but that amazed me.” But, it wasn’t until Victor’s venture into the world of anime and massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPG) that they found their aesthetic niche. “Anime and MMORPG are all very colourful, very queer coded and have a lot of powerful fashion,” they explain. “Basically all things I absolutely love and live for.” As a queer and non-binary person growing up in Brazil, it was these avenues of glamour that Victor found solace in.
Years on, Victor has channelled the powerful queer and dazzling energy of these inspirations into their works, resulting in a stunning portfolio of 2D illustration and digital art. “My signature style is very energetic, electrifying and, at the same time, romantic and nostalgic,” Victor describes. From their drawings to their digital work, Victor’s fantastical drawn garments drape over figures that pose with glamour, verve, and sensuality. It’s a fascinating angle of contemporary queer art that is fuelled by social media and the proliferation of fantasy and escapism. “In my daily life I'm always attracted to landscapes and quiet and open spaces so I think my illustrative word is a lot different by being this colourful and loud universe,” they add. “During my entire childhood and teenage years I used to play a lot by myself, like punching the air, imagining fight scenes, all that,” Victor explains. “A huge part of this moment was me imagining every single detail of my outfit and power aesthetic: how would I look if I was a character in this anime that I'm watching? How would my clothes move, how would I portray myself?” It’s this exact exercise of imagination that has led Victor to where they are today, and why all of their illustrations and art become bonafide superheroes.
“Everything that I do is a print screen of the movie that is currently playing in my head,” Victor elaborates on the unwillingness to compromise maximalism and indulgence within their art. “A movie in which I'm the protagonist, and the emotions I feel in real life can exist in this dramatic and absurd universe.” Respectfully, Victor is indignant in changing this any time soon. They’re steadfast and self-assured in their sense of self, and what they aim to achieve in their incredibly detailed and mesmerizing work. “But, now that I'm more mature with my process, I can see that this escapism was always a way for me to heal my wounds,” Victor says. “It’s this powerful alchemy of transforming hard feelings into colourful things that keeps me going.” Victor themselves often appear as subjects of the art, dressed in the illustrations as they take a selfie, garnering huge amounts of engagements from followers across social media. Victor’s formerly isolatory life and dependency on escapist tactics has blossomed into something outgoing, relatable, and shareable to thousands.
To no surprise, the work is popular within the world of drag queens. In particular, RuPaul’s Drag Race winners Violet Chachki and Aquaria have tapped Victor for collaborations. “I was on the internet a couple months ago and I saw some artist trying to create something that looked like my aesthetics and technique, and I remember feeling very anxious and defensive, with this urge to protect what is mine,” Victor explains on how the idea for collaboration came about. “As a result, I immediately messaged Violet and Aquaria, who were mutual followers for almost a year now, to see if they would support me on a project that I had previously been holding back on.” It was the urge to protect their art and aesthetic which pushed Victor to take a leap of faith and contact the queens, and the rest is herstory. “My idea was to transform queer artists into a Quimera,” Victor explains. A quimera is the Portuguese translation for the ancient Greek Chimera, a mythological female creature that has bodily components of many different elements. In Victor’s work, however, the word takes on a meaning unique to their own: something of a powerful, sword-wielding beautiful humanoid feminine monster. “I'm very glad that they were on board with it and were super supportive and easy to work with,” Victor says. “And for me, as a long time fan of them both, it was truly an honour to create those images for them.”
The series in which these collaborations appear, titled Experimento Quimera, has taught Victor a lot. “I learned that you can use anger as an energy to do something for yourself and not to hurt others,” they tell us. “Because instead of going on the internet and starting to be toxic with those artists, I just focused on my stuff and proved to myself that what is mine is mine and no one can take that away from me.” Now, Victor continues to expand their artistic universe, building on the Experimento Quimera series both with self-portraits and collaborations with more queer artists. “I’m very queer as a person, so it’s natural for my work to be as queer coded as it is,” they say. “I don’t have to think too much about it, I just accept it and keep celebrating it the way it is.”
Quimera: Experimento Quimera 002 featuring Aquaria(Copyright © Quimera, 2021)