New York based multi-media artist Kip Omolade paints captivating, hyperrealistic portraits based on African sculptures, as in his latest series Diovadiova Chrome, a collection of highly saturated, luminous faces. The labor-intensive process involves creating the mold 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 hyperrealistic oil-painting. Influenced by the 80’s movement and his early experiences as a graffiti artists, many of his sensibilities come from a Hip Hop approach where you live by the rule of full self-expression – a notion reflected in his oil paintings which explore immortality through a luxury-branding motif. Termed after the greek word “Diovadiova” which means “togetherness”, his series is a psychological study looking at the universal masks we all wear in society, he explains. For more check out the interview below and visit his website www.kipomolade.com.
Whom do you look up to?
Looking up implies that I’m at the bottom of something. So I do not look up to anyone. I look across at fellow artists Jeff Koons, Takashi Murakami, Andy Warhol and others as other creative people. Their work reminds me of my own potential.
Who or what has been the biggest influence on your way of thinking?
My School of Visual Arts teacher Garin Baker introduced me to painting with oils. I would sit next to him while painting from the model and try to paint exactly like him. At one point, he told me to paint from another vantage point in the studio so I could explore my own capabilities.
What made you want to become an artist?
For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be an artist. One of my earliest memories was from a children’s book “Blueberries for Sal” by Robert McCloskey. I think it was then, at about six years old, when I realized drawings could elicit an emotional response with the viewer.
What was your favourite project and why?
My current Diovadiova Chrome project is my favourite project because it stretches my skills and yet fulfills my interests. I can combine my graffiti art sensibilities, sculpting technique and oil painting to produce contemporary African masks.
What was the biggest challenge you’ve faced during your career as an artist?
My biggest challenge in my art career was to find a cohesive, singular project that would test my abilities and adapt to whatever I was experiencing at any given moment.
Do you have a favourite quote that describes what you truly believe in?
I do not have a favourite quote or personal motto but whenever I‘m faced with a major decision, I think of the word “integrity”.
How do you define creativity?
The ability to use imagination and inteligence to solve mundane or profound challenges.
If you had one advice for someone seeking to live a creative life, what would you tell him?
Do what you love. Use your life, interests and passion to create original work. Become the best artist humanly possible. Lastly, get your work in front of those people who absolutely need it.
What do you know now that you wish you knew at 21?
I wish I knew more about the economics and business of fine art. I thought the most accessible way for an artist to earn a living was to illustrate pictures using someone else’s ridiculous ideas. I would tell my 21 self that you could earn a living with your own ridiculous ideas.
Is there anything for which you would be ready to give up your passion for art?
All images © Kip Omolade