Artist Kip Omolade is set to showcase his latest hyperreal oil paintings of chrome sculptures which examine mortality and human relationships.
The show’s title ‘Diovadiova’ refers to Omolade’s merging of dio, the Italian word for god, and diva, the historical word for goddess. Initially the portrait series examined luxury, beauty and the relationship between celebrities and deities. Omolade has also used ‘Diovadiova’ self-portraits to investigate his identity as an African American man. He has consistently used single subjects positioned against brightly coloured backgrounds to convey his ideas about the universal masks everyone wears.
However, in ‘Diovadiova,’ Omolade has included multiple subjects in individual paintings for the first time. He states, “The masks have become mythological characters having conversations about humanity. I see them as deities pondering age old questions about birth, life, death, identity and love.”
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Omolade’s process involves making a mold of each model’s face, reworking the plaster cast, producing a version in resin and adding a chrome layer with artificial eyelashes. The final sculpture then serves as a model for the hyper realistic oil painting which may take several months to complete. The technique is a historical link between the Diovadiova and ancient African sculpture, such as Ife bronze heads which were also made from a casting method and required highly skilled craftsmanship.
Like the Ife sculptures, Omolade’s new paintings use images of faces to portray what it means to be human.
Omolade was born in Harlem, New York and began his career as a graffiti artist while interning at Marvel Comics and the Centre for African Art. He continued his studies at the Art Students League of New York and earned a BFA at the School of Visual Arts. His work has been exhibited at Opera Gallery, Jonathan LeVine Projects, Joseph Gross Gallery and Art Basel Miami.