Not many artists would be as advanced in their craft as 11 year old Nigerian artist Kareem Olamilekan at his age and for some at any age. Hyperrealistic portraits are not only awe inspiring but also reflect his environment. The artists favourite piece “daily bread” is important to him as it is, “The sweat and the tears. My family, we work hard before we put food in our mouths, before we eat. That is what inspires me.” he said in a BBC interview.
Olamilekan is also inspired by Michelangelo and fellow Nigerian portraitist Arinze Stanley Egbengwu. He works from a makeshift art studio in a poor neighborhood in Lagos, where his most used mediums are pencil and charcoal which he uses to create incredibly detailed portraits of friends, family, and notable figures, according to My Modern Met. Olamilekan also incorporates ballpoint pen, paint, and pastels on occasion.
Olamilekan is a student of the local Ayowole Academy of Art, created by graduate art student Adeniyi Adewole. “He can go far, farther than even beyond our expectations because I believe with what he has been doing, he’s going somewhere greater,” Adewole told DD News. “We used to tell him don’t see yourself like a roadside artist. Believe you can have a name like Michelangelo, like [Leonardo] da Vinci.”
As a testament to his talent Kareem Waris Olamilekan caught the attention of French President Macron on a two-day visit to Nigeria when he attended a cultural showcase for the launch of the Season of African Cultural Season, scheduled for France in 2020.
While waiting for the President to arrive, Olamilekan created a portrait of Macron within 2 hours which was presented to him by the event’s host, Nigerian singer, Banky W.
Hyperrealism is a genre of art that produces hand-drawn images resembling high-resolution photos and it has an avid audience. With his growing popularity what does Olamilekan want for his future? “I want to see myself among the great artists, in museums,” he told BBC Africa’s “What’s New?” program
Unbelievably talented 11-year old Kazeem paints the President of France on a canvas in just 2 hours at the New Afrika Shrine yesterday. You should have seen the shock on the Macron's face.#Art #Muse #PrideofLagos #AfrikaShrine #afrotourism #africa #culture pic.twitter.com/9Z0DDV25p7
— Afro Tourism (Flights & Tours) (@afrotourist) July 4, 2018
Very touched, congratulations to this young boy! pic.twitter.com/hQd3ylxGnV
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) July 3, 2018