Talented isn’t enough to describe Kareem Waris Olamilekan, an 11 year-old Nigerian boy from the city of Lagos who has the tantalizing skills of the great masters. He works in a small open space converted into a studio, keenly observing the ordinary photograph in front of him. With charcoal in hand, he moves it across the canvas and slowly, a detailed face in black and gray manifests in the once blank space.
The image, a portrait that of a boy, beaded with sweat as he feeds himself from a spoon, is jaw-dropping, symbolic of the hard labor and struggle his family endures to put food on their table. He calls this piece “Daily Bread,”and is his favorite drawing among all the other works that have put him in the world’s eye. His hyperrealistic drawings have unofficially gained him the title, “Da Vinci of Nigeria.”
The young artist started at the tender age of 6, continuously honing his skills in an open-air studio at the Ayowole Academy of Arts, a modest work area but suitable as it doesn’t affect the quality of the boywonder’s works all inspired by the people surrounding him: friends, family and neighbors. Artistically, the “Da Vinci of Nigeria” idolizes Italian master Michelangelo and local artist Arinze Stanley, who draws incredible life-like portraits. Olamilekan’s skills are so good that he is already working as a professional artist.
In July, the 11 year-old artist took a photo of French President Emmanuel Macron and translated it into a portrait just hours before the head-of-state was to visit Fela Kuti’s New Africa Shrine. After Macron was presented with the gift, he took to Twitter with a video of their brief encounter writing, “Very touched, congratulations to this young boy!” as he was moved by the present.
It is truly amazing how one as young as Kareem can give the world reason to celebrate. As with other people’s extraordinary abilities, innate gifts have moved people around the globe to celebrate their genius as testaments to the dedication they have in honing skills to inspire humankind.
Thank you Kareem for sharing YOUR EXTRAORDINARY TALENT!
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