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.