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New online exhibit with Jonathan LeVine Projects:

"Masks: Portraits of Times Square and Luxury Graffiti”

The exhibition runs from Sept. 9th through Oct. 24th.

For more info, go to https://jonathanlevineprojects.com/

 

 

Red Stare, Oil on canvas, 36 x 48 inches

 

Portraits of Times Square

American Love , Oil on canvas, 36 x 48 inches

 

Luxury Graffiti Self-Portrait (COVID-19), Oil on canvas, 36 x 48 inches

 

Luxury Graffiti

Luxury Graffiti Kace I, Oil, spray paint and acrylic on canvas, 36 x 48 inches

 

Luxury Graffiti Kent I, Oil on canvas, 36 x 48 inches

 

Luxury Graffiti Kelley II, Oil on canvas, 36 x 48 inches

 

Luxury Graffiti

In New York City during the 80’s, my tag was “Kace”. I would mostly “get up” in Brooklyn (Flatbush, Crown Heights, Bed-Stuy) and in graffiti black books which would travel from borough to borough. I went to Tilden High School which was the most violent school in NYC at the time. Academically I was failing miserably, and my single mother gave me an ultimatum: either quit school and get a job or go to City-As-School in Manhattan. City-As was an alternative school where students would earn their high school diplomas by enrolling in in-house classes, college courses and various internships around the city.

I interned at Marvel Comics, The Center for African Art, Planned Parenthood and other NYC institutions. Incidently, Basquiat attended the school a couple of years prior to my enrollment. City-As opened up my eyes to so many opportunities not available in Brooklyn. One time across the street from school, Run DMC came to shoot a video for PBS’s Reading Rainbow. I was able to get their autographs on my portfolio cover.

Throughout the 90’s, I never stopped tagging. Even when I was painting from life, I was still tagging here and there on random spaces, Years later I even produced a real life Kace. When my first-born twin son was born, I named him “Kace”. As part of my Diovadiova Chrome Avoid a Void series, I made chrome sculptures of he and my other children’s faces. The works were then used as references for a 10 x 13-foot oil painting.

Now in 2020, I’ve returned to my graffiti roots. My Luxury Graffiti oil paintings re-present photographs of my chrome sculptures against backgrounds of Kace tags. The tags are cropped and enlarged to convey how we zoom in on images on our computers and smart phones. There is also references to the “bombed” NYC subway of the 80’s, traditional oil portraiture, Action Painting and Abstract Expressionism but mostly it’s about legacy. 

Kip Omolade, February 5, 2020  

 

Luxury Graffiti Sculpture

Luxury Graffiti Opulence, Resin, chrome paint, artificial eyelashes, spray paint on panel, 12 x 16 inches 

 

Luxury Graffiti Couture, Resin, chrome paint, artificial eyelashes, spray paint on panel, 12 x 16 inches 

 

Luxury Graffiti Ultra, Resin, chrome paint, artificial eyelashes, spray paint on panel, 12 x 16 inches 

 

Luxury Graffiti Bespoke, Resin, chrome paint, artificial eyelashes, spray paint on panel, 12 x 16 inches 

 

Luxury Graffiti Supreme, Resin, chrome paint, artificial eyelashes, spray paint on panel, 12 x 16 inches 

 

The Difference Between Me and You

 

♥, Oil on canvas, 48 x 60 inches

The Art of Creation or The Creation of Art, Oil on canvas, 48 x 60 inches

Black Madonna & Black Virgin, Oil on canvas in two parts, Each: 36 x 48 inches

 

Black on Black Crime, Oil on canvas, 48 x 48 inches

 

Les Demoiselles de la Diovadiova, Oil on linen, 72 x 48 in

 

The Difference Between Me and You is about race. My new oil paintings compare the physical similarities and differences between a Haitian model (Joyce) and a Dominican Republic model (Janderie) to explore notions about colorism, identity, beauty and power.

Haiti and the Dominican Republic share a tumultuous history. Between the late 1400’s and 1600’s, Europeans colonized the Caribbean island of Hispaniola. The Haitian half was colonized by the French with African slaves. On the Dominican half, Spain colonized the indigenous Taino people. Both countries later gained independence, but due to outside political policies, corruption and natural disasters, Haiti became and remains impoverished. The Dominic Republic experienced greater stability and a stronger economy due to agricultural commodities such as sugar, cocoa and coffee.

While both countries experienced the devastating effects of colonialism, many Haitian people have been killed and discriminated against in the Dominican Republic. For example, in 1937, Dominican soldiers armed with machetes massacred an estimated 20,000 Haitians. Recently in 2013, tens of thousands of Dominicans of Haitian descent, were stripped of citizen rights. Many Haitians in the DR are often singled out because of supposed labor concerns and language differences but most are singled out because of their dark skin.

As an artist, I look for universal truths that connect humanity. The Difference Between Me and You deconstructs race and ethnicity to understand what truly makes a person. In the paintings, Joyderie I and Joyderie II, I combined Joyce and Janderie to create a new person. During the process, I experimented with Photoshop and noticed how the shapes of their faces matched. Despite their different complexions, Joyce and Janderie’s eyes, noses and mouths, aligned perfectly. Even their expressions, cosmetics and adorning jewelry shared similar visual connections. I saw and represented the vulnerability, humanity and soul in both of their eyes. The final result is a hybrid portrait of Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

The Difference also uses art history to investigate ideas about sexuality and power. In these works, the models are presented separately. Diovadiova Madame X is a 10-foot-tall painting depicting Joyce in a white latex catsuit standing triumphantly on top of two large skulls. The name refers to John Singer Sargent’s Madame X, while the use of dark skin against a white background is a nod to Barkley Hendricks. In Caravaggio, Janderie’s hands warn the viewer using an oil technique that requires 3D glasses for viewing. Les Demoiselles de la Diovadiova references Picasso with five versions of Janderie in various colored catsuits. She represents various elements of nature in a sensual superhero motif. Joyce’s sensuality is also conveyed in Black Power. In the painting, she wields a paint brush and represents Abstract Expressionism. In these paintings, women of color symbolize power while maintaining their sexuality.

Although Joyce and Janderie represent Haiti and the Dominican Republic, The Difference Between Me and You can apply to any peoples separated by ethnicity, race, gender, politics, sexuality, religion, etc. For instance, the paintings ♥ and The Art of Creation or The Creation of Art depict Joyce and Janderie facing each other. The women invite the viewer to imagine what each model is thinking. They represent a universal investigation of the “other”.

Kip Omolade, November 7, 2019  

 

 The Diovadiova - Avoid a Void

Diovadiova Chrome Tribunal, Oil on Canvas, 120.5 x 156.5 inches

 

Diovadiova Chrome Trinity, Oil on Canvas, 120.5 x 186 inches

 

Diovadiova Chrome Tribute, Oil on Canvas, 120.5 x 156.5 inches

 

Diovadiova Chrome Triumph, Oil on Canvas, 120.5 x 156.5 inches

 

Diovadiova Chrome Kip Triptych I, Oil on Canvas, 36 x 74 inches

 

Diovadiova Chrome Kip Triptych II, Oil on Canvas, 36 x 74 inches

 

Diovadiova Chrome Kip Triptych III, Oil on Canvas, 36 x 74 inches

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