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Opening on September 19th, 2019 at 520 West 23rd Street in New York City is artist Kip Omolade’s outstanding pop up exhibition of 13-15 foot tall paintings: “The Diovadiova – Avoid a Void.”

The show’s title Diovadiova refers to Omolade’s merging of dio, the Italian word for god, and diva, the historical word for goddess. Initially the portrait series examined luxury, beauty and the relationship between celebrities and deities. Omolade has also used Diovadiova self-portraits to investigate his identity as an African American man. He has consistently used single subjects positioned against brightly colored backgrounds to convey his ideas about the universal masks we all wear. However, in The Diovadiova – Avoid a Void Omolade has included multiple subjects in individual paintings for the first time. He states, “I’ve always represented my sculptures by painting them as singular portraits. However, in The Diovadiova – Avoid a Void the faces are now interacting with each other. They are arranged together on large canvases measuring 13-15 feet long. The masks have become mythological characters having conversations about humanity. I see them as deities pondering age old questions about birth, life, death, identity and love.”

Omolade’s labor-intensive process involves making a mold of each model’s face, reworking the plaster cast, 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 which may take several months to complete. The technique is a historical link between The Diovadiova and ancient African sculpture, such as Ife bronze heads which were also made from a casting method and required highly skilled craftsmanship. Like the Ife sculptures, Omolade’s new paintings use images of faces to portray what it means to be human.

If you’re in New York City you should absolutely stop by.

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