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11-year-old Nigerian boy stuns world with pencil portraits

PENCIL PORTRAITS: Kareem Waris Olamilekan with one of his creations (Image: Waspa_art/Instagram)

AN 11-YEAR-OLD boy from Nigeria has become an international art sensation after his hyperreal drawings were shared around the world.

Kareem Waris Olamilekan, who lives in Lagos, has shot to fame because of his incredible artistic talent. He is one of the youngest members of Nigeria’s hyperrealist art scene. A type of hand-drawn art that resembles high resolution photography.

Olamilekan has said he is inspired by Michelangelo and Arinze Stanley Egbengwu. When it comes to individual pieces, he draws on his surroundings to personal experiences.

"The inspiration behind it is that something going on around me, especially my family. The sweat on it symbolises hard work and struggling. And the spoon symbolises food. Everybody in my society has little now, or my streets, they struggle, struggle, they sweat for their eats," he said of his thought process behind one grayscale drawing of a boy eating from a spoon.

The young schoolboy started drawing at six years old and began producing work of a professional status at the age of eight, according to DD News.

Adeniyi Adewole, who teaches Olamilekan at the arts academy in Lagos, said: "He can go far, farther than even beyond our expectations, because I believe with what he has been doing, he's going somewhere greater. We used to tell him don't see yourself like a roadside artist. Believe you can have a name like Michelangelo, like Davinci."

Olamilekan has aspirations for his art to be displayed in museums around the world and his artwork is already in the possession of a high profile international figure.

French president Emmanuel Macron met with the young boy last week and complimented him on his art.

During Macron’s visit to the Nigerian capital, Olamilekan drew a live portrait of French president in only two hours.

Macron shared a video of the moment the portrait was presented to him on social media.

In the short clip posted on Twitter, Macron can be seen admiring the drawing and embracing Olamilekan.

Macron tweeted: “Very touched, congratulations to this young boy!”

The French leader was in Lagos to visit the Fela Kuti’s new Afrika shrine. He said: “The shrine is an iconic cultural hub. And I say with a lot of humility that I recognise the importance of African culture.”

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