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Hyperrealistic Paintings of Chrome Masks Celebrate African Art and Beauty

Kip Omolade makes chrome masks of models’ faces, then perfectly renders them in oil paintings.

by Gabrielle Bruney
Feb 28 2016, 3:15pm

All images courtesy of the artist 

Though a politically correct approach to beauty politics reigns in public discourse, the veneer is a thin one. Scratch it, and all kinds of horrifying stuff emerges—like the recent incident in which a model was made the subject of racist attacks on Mac Cosmetics' Instagram because a photo showcased her full lips. So the works of Kip Omolade—hyperrealistic paintings of chrome face masks of black subjects—are especially poignant, stark celebrations of black features.

"My Diovadiova Chrome portraits historically connect to ancient, realistic African sculptures such as Benin ivory masks and Ife bronze heads. The oil paintings are psychological studies that investigate immortality, the universal masks we all wear and contemporary notions of beauty and luxury,” writes the New York-based artist. "The labor-intensive process involves making a mold and cast 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 hyper-realistic oil painting. This technique maintains the likeness qualities of portraiture while re-presenting a mask that serves as a conduit between the spiritual and natural world."

The masks aren’t just another step in his process; Omolade uses them as part of a broader project called Diovadiova. “Diovadiova is the name and concept I developed to describe the relationship between immortality and contemporary luxury iconography. (Dio is the Italian word for god, while the word diva, in the historic sense means goddess,)” he tells The Creators Project.

To learn more about Kip Omolade, click here.

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