Kip Omolade press


Diovadiova Chrome Kip VI (Times Square), Oil on canvas, 72 x 96 inches

Early artists used mirrors to paint self-portraits. For this self-portrait, I used my face as a mirror. I made a mold of my face to make a chrome sculpture and photographed it in Times Square.

During a rare sunny April morning, I mounted my sculpture against an orange panel. I arranged it near a neon American flag landmark and timed the photographs to capture a billboard that changed every few seconds. At the same time, I posed so that my face and various buildings would appear throughout the reflective sculpture. Several bystanders, including native New Yorkers and tourists, interrupted to see what I was doing or to help. I had the optimum composition with perfect daylight but construction workers began to barricade the flag with a protective covering. It just so happened that they were preparing for a summer long renovation project. Despite all the challenges, I managed to get a photograph that connected the environment and myself.

This was not the first time I created a portrait in Times Square. A few years ago, I painted Diovadiova Kitty Cash V as a tribute to New York City. I always knew that the portrait would somehow exhibit in Time Square. Through a serendipitous series of events, Viacom, whose corporate offices are in the middle of Times Square, exhibited and acquired the portrait.

My current self-portrait continues to capture the energy of Times Square, but expands the focus and scale to reveal a portrait about the United States. Within the main portrait, my face is placed between political and commercial symbols. My goal was to position my art in the historical canon of self-portraits while holding a mirror up to society.  



Diovadiova Chrome Kip I, Oil on canvas, 36 x 48 in.

The Man in the Mirror
By Kip Omolade

My self-portraits examine immortality, identity and spirituality as an on-going part of The Diovadiova Chrome series. Originally, The Diovadiova studied the relationship between celebrities and deities, but it has transformed to convey notions of beauty, luxury and power. The project has now further expanded to explore my place in world history as an African American man.

Initially, women of color were my inspiration. However, several of the Diovadiova Chrome portraits of women already depict images of my face. In painted vignettes, I am in the reflections photographing the sculptures. This was a way of using art itself to show the creative process. These embedded selfies were also the first glimpses into my current exploration.

To create the paintings, I used a mold of my face to make a chrome sculpture. Photographs of the sculpted model in various lighting and settings served as references. The remaining painting process is autobiographical as it connects to different stages of my life. The bright, saturated colors and intricate, abstract shapes recall my graffiti days in NYC during the 80ís. My teenage internship at Marvel Comics influences a futuristic, sci-fi aesthetic. The use of oils is the result of painting from life at The School of Visual Arts and The Art Students League of New York.

There is a historical link between Diovadiova Chrome and ancient West African Ife bronze heads. The artifacts required a highly skilled technique and were also crafted from a casting method. These once shiny sculptures used a realistic, yet stylized, method to represent royal deities, but what remains is a universal sense of dignified humanity. While these heads 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.  

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