Brooklyn-based artist Kip Omolade creates large-scale oil paintings of chrome masks, depicting not only the subtle details of female faces, but incorporating the reflected environment of each piece. The series, entitled Diovadiova Chrome, makes reference in part to historical African sculptures, while exploring contemporary aspects of identity, luxury, and immortality. Each piece begins as a mold and cast taken from an actual model which is then utilized as source material for Omolade’s towering paintings which can measure several feet tall.
“Diovadiova Chrome portraits historically connect to ancient, realistic African sculptures such as Benin ivory masks and Ife bronze heads,” shares Omolade in his artist statement. “The oil paintings are psychological studies that investigate immortality, the universal masks we all wear and contemporary notions of beauty and luxury. The labor-intensive process involves making a mold and cast of each model’s face, reworking the cast plaster sculpture, 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. This technique maintains the likeness qualities of portraiture while re-presenting a mask that serves as a conduit between the spiritual and natural world.”
The term Omolade uses to describe the series, Diovadiova, is a word he derived from a combination of the Italian word “Dio” meaning god, and the historical meaning of the word “diva” which is goddess.