Artist Spotlight: Charmaine Olivia

By: Aleksandra Bulatskaya

Rose Study by: Charmaine Olivia

Headache by: Charmaine Olivia

One look at Charmaine Olivia’s boldly feminine, sensual and whimsical pieces and it’s easy to see why Lady Gaga handpicked her work from that of 3 other artists in an Etsy contest to design posters inspired by the Born This Way album.

Lady Gaga chose the “Headache” print, a woman with flowing white locks and antlers that bears a strong physical resemblance to the “Born This Way” singer. Fifteen of the posters were signed by Mama Monster herself and all proceeds from the exclusive Etsy sale were donated to VH1’s Save the Music Foundation.

A self-taught artist with no classical training, Olivia first toyed with the idea of moving to Paris but ultimately chose San Francisco as her home. Her work features strong Hindu and Eastern influences from her childhood. The fantastical man-animal god hybrids of Hinduism manifest themselves in painted Third Eyes, animals in human clothing and sirens with deer horns.

Jackie by: Charmaine Olivia

It was her talents for creating fiercely independent work that helped her  stand out even when standing shoulder to shoulder with a master. When The Warholian asked her to reimagine Andy Warhol’s classic Jackie O portrait, for the Warhol Reimagined exhibition in San Francisco, she responded by giving Warhol’s print of the aristocratic icon tattoos and a third eye.

While tattoos on Jackie O may seem like a contradiction, it is actually a perfect example of Olivia’s ability to illustrate the desire for both strength and feminity across all female generations.

In many ways, Olivia’s work can be seen as a reflection of today’s generation. Her animal themes underline how people will always feel an instinctive connection to nature. Her themes of strength and empowerment show that although some social norms have changed, women will always be mysterious creatures.

This may be the why Lady Gaga chose her work over other equally talented artists. Olivia’s aesthetic is otherworldly and even a little whimsical but at its core it speaks to the most basic thoughts and desires we all feel.

To learn more about Charmaine Olivia’s work visit: http://www.charmaineolivia.com/

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