Home / Culture & Arts / Chrome Faces Protrude from Drippy, Graffiti Backdrops in Hyperrealistic Paintings by Artist Kip Omolade

Chrome Faces Protrude from Drippy, Graffiti Backdrops in Hyperrealistic Paintings by Artist Kip Omolade

“Luxury Graffiti Kace I,” oil, spray paint and acrylic on canvas, 36 x 48 inches. All images © Kip Omolade, shared with permission

Set on a graffitied backdrop, the chrome masks Kip Omolade (previously) paints appear to emerge from the canvas, jutting out from the vibrant display to confront the viewer. The Harlem-born artist layers dripping colors and typographic markings that contrast the smooth, gleaming faces protruding from the center for his new series Masks: Portraits of Times Square and Luxury Graffiti, which he completed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. In a statement, he explains the history of the collection:

In New York City during the ’80s, my tag was ‘Kace’ and I would ‘get up’ on MTA subway car interiors, public walls in Brooklyn, and graffiti black books. Throughout the ’90s, I never stopped tagging. Even when I was painting from life, I was still tagging here and there in random spaces. Years later, I produced a real-life ‘Kace’—when my twin sons were born, I named them Kent and Kace. The ‘Kace’ tags in these paintings reference NYC subway ‘bombing’ of the ’80s, but mostly it’s about legacy. I want my work to represent our shared experiences of the past, present, and future.

Omolade’s process includes sculpting a resin mold of a chosen subject, which he then covers with chrome and uses as a reference for his hyperrealistic portraits. Many of the masks are reflective, revealing a hidden landscape. In Omolade’s self-portrait (shown below), an American flag in the shape of a bullseye marks his forehead, a nod to racial injustices in the United States.

To see more of Omolade’s works, check out his virtual solo show at Jonathan LeVine Projects through October 4 and head to his Instagram.

 

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

“Luxury Graffiti Kent I,” oil on canvas, 36 x 48 inches

“Luxury Graffiti Kent I,” oil on canvas, 36 x 48 inches

“American Love,” oil on canvas, 36 x 48 inches

“Red Stare,” oil on canvas, 36 x 48 inches



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