It was May 31st and as Americans were crawling back to work after the Memorial Day weekend, now with the golden potential of summertime concerts and art shows fluttering just past our fingertips, Charmaine Olivia updates her Facebook status. She writes in her cute and casual tone, “sooo Lady Gaga chose me as one of 3 Etsy artists to design a poster for her new album release.” Among moving into a new studio, participating in our very own rockin’ Warhol Reimagined and being featured in several other shows in the San Francisco area, this busy lady has managed to inspire the reigning Princess of Pop with her new kind of pop art woman. Lady Gaga has chosen the painting she calls “Headache” where a voluptuous, dreamy-eyed vixen runs her hands through her stark white hair and two antlers. It makes perfect sense. Charmaine’s work is both soft and stunning, as she turns the idea of sexiness on its head. Her adorable deer in gym socks has appeared on the cover of a book and you can buy prints of her quirky cool painting “Bears in her Hair” at Urban Outfitters. Her online presence indicates certain savvy of the changing market for art and means of exposure, but it is simply her work itself that speaks to so many people.
Charmaine’s dominant subject is women among some aspect of nature. For every element of beauty there is an element of the wild, an adventure that we cannot quite discern. A sensual women wearing a fox mask or headdress of vivid feathers, octopus tattoos on her neck or sailboats on her shoulders.
“I suppose it’s my way of connecting more with the natural world, as I live in a city and don’t get to see nature much. I’m also kind of obsessed with fairies and mermaids and other fantastical women which you only find in nature,” the San Francisco based artist tells us.
It is clear that a contemporary young audience identifies with the whimsy and strength in the story Charmaine is telling. She says that she paints mostly for herself as a way of “living vicariously in [her] made-up fairytales.” But these are not your average sleepy, staid fairy tales. Her beauties display an epic sort of ferocity, while still seeming ethereal.
In her more recent work, like the painting for Warhol Reimagined, which she describes as “Jackie O, but Charmaine-ified. Tattoos, half shaved head, three eyes and a nose ring, yet still maintaining her elegance and poise” she explores the concept of extra eyes. The kaleidoscope eyes are at once alluring and alarming, familiar but freaky. If adding extra eyes to her painted ladies was born from the Hindu and Eastern influences in her life growing up, the way she has turned the concept around is distinctly her own.
“The symbolism of the third-eye has always intrigued me,” she explains, “except the third-eyes, or fourth, I give my girls are a little off. They’ve gone awry. I’m really curious as to what it would be like to see out of multiple eyes. It’d probably give me a headache.”
A self-taught artist who embodies the progressive beauty and intention of her subjects, Charmaine is simultaneously conquering another art form—the one of social media.
“It totally IS becoming its own art form!” She agrees social media, “just makes it really easy to share, not only my art but little bits about my life. Those sorts of things interest me with other artist and musicians that I follow. I love seeing bits of their life, not just the finished products. Sometimes the process can be just as beautiful as the product.”
Maybe that’s why Charmaine’s work speaks to so many in this era of instant and constant communication. She paints sensuality that doesn’t take itself too seriously and bewitching mystery fringed with a softer, quirky whimsy. And the Internet seamlessly carries the process to any onlooker, the product to any admirer, and the story to any Lady Gaga.
by Aimee Dewing for Warholian
Story by Aimee dewing, follow Aimee’s blog here: http://dewingdivine.wordpress.com/
Photos by Michael Cuffe, follow Mike on Google Plus here: https://plus.google.com/103524029725020180286#103524029725020180286/posts