Jonathan LeVine Projects is pleased to present Diovadiova Chrome, a solo exhibition of new work by New Jersey-based artist Kip Omolade in what will be his debut solo show at the gallery.
Omolade creates hyperreal oil paintings of chrome portrait sculptures. Depicting solely the sculpture against a brightly colored, monochrome background, he meticulously illustrates the intricacies of the human face and the reflected surrounding environment.
Diovadiova is a name the artist created merging Dio, the Italian word for god, and diva, the historical word for goddess. In its inception this portrait series set out to analyze the relationship between celebrities and deities, however, it transformed into a psychological study that investigates immortality, contemporary notions of beauty and luxury, and the invisible masks that veil society. The exhibition also features a selection of self-portraits that explore the artist’s place in art history as an African American male.
Omolade begins each piece by making a mold and cast of a model’s face. He then produces a resin version of the cast, adorning it with a chrome layer and artificial eyelashes, that serves as a reference for the painting. This labor intensive process creates a historical link between Diovadiova Chrome and ancient African sculpture, such as Ife bronze heads and Benin ivory masks, which were also made from a casting method and required highly skilled craftsmanship. He elaborates, “While these artifacts represented actual people, there was a connection to a timeless, higher power. Similarly, my work does not attempt to capture an exact likeness but rather something deeper. I am trying to paint my soul.”