Rihanna Is Getting This Basquiat-Inspired Sculpture as a Surprise Birthday Gift

Pop star Rihanna turns 30 today, and to celebrate, the artist Edgar Askelovic is presenting the American singer a sculpture—of herself. The singer is depicted in the nude, wearing an American football helmet inspired by Jean-Michel Basquiat‘s art.

Asked if Rihanna knows about the gift, Askelovic told artnet News: “As [she] liked a photo of the sculpture on my Instagram page, I guess the sculpture will not be a surprise! I hope she enjoys it and will accept it as a special gift from me.”

Lithuanian-born, Germany-based Askelovic is fascinated by anatomy and specializes in creating realistic, life-sized sculptures, which he makes from silicone, fiberglass, and resin. “I create sculptures of celebrities with strong characters and alluring faces as I find these very interesting to sculpt,” Askelovic said, adding that he has been planning on tackling Rihanna for a long time.

Edgar Askelovic, Rihanna at JD Malat Gallery.

The series, “Rihanna,” consists of three unique variations of the same sculpture of the singer wearing an American football helmet inspired by Basquiat’s famous AARON helmet. This one is emblazoned with the singer’s “RIRI” alias. Askelovic said that the project, which took five months to complete, is “a symbiosis of Rihanna and Basquiat.”

“I included Rihanna’s tattoos on the sculpture, but interpreted them in the style of Basquiat,” he said. “When the time came to paint I switched on music, as Basquiat would do, and I became so engrossed in it that I finished all the painting in two days. It was a really enjoyable part of the work process.”

It’s not the first time the two artists—Basquiat and Rihanna—have been linked. The album art for the multi-platinum record “ANTI” features a crown not unlike the one in Basquiat’s SAMO tag, as well as photos of Rihanna with her hair styled similarly to Basquiat’s.

While one of the full-body sculptures is wending its way to Rihanna, another will be on display for sale, priced at £32,000 ($45,000), at the launch of the JD Malat Art Gallery in London in May. (Only big time Rihanna fans need apply.)

Jean-David Malat, the Paris-born dealer and curator, will showcase the work of both established and up-and-coming artists in the new Mayfair space. “Edgar Askelovic’s Rihanna is an intriguing example of the innovation of today’s up-and-coming artists,” he said. “I look forward to introducing Askelovic’s work to a wider audience at my new gallery.”

Rihanna as a work in progress. Courtesy of Edgar Askelovic at JD Malat Gallery.

Askelovic tells us that going forward, every celebrity he sculpts will receive an edition of his or her sculpture as a gift. Last year he did Kate Moss, fashioning a limbless mannequin of the British model’s torso out of silicone, which he called MILF. He has previously crafted works depicting David Bowie and Kurt Cobain.

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