Trending in Nigeria is a new breed of super realistic pencil artists, these artists are young Nigerians, some of them are as young as 11 years old, and their works are simply breath taking. To look at their works is to be bugged down with doubt that there is “no way this is not a printed photograph”, the perfection is quite outstanding.
Kareen Waris Olamilekan (also known as Waspa), is an artist from Lagos, Nigeria, he is just 11 years old, while his peers are running around the neighborhood playing football and getting “busy” with other Ingenious youthful exuberances, Kareem Olamilekan is busy creating hyper-realistic works of art.
The young Kareem is currently studying at Ayowole Academy of Arts, the “bitty artist” has one wish and that is to see his works on display in a museum someday. According to close associates, Olamilekan has been drawing since the age of 6, and his core subject area is portraits, though he sometimes tries other subject areas too.
Speaking to a BBC correspondent, Kareem said
“I draw my friends. I draw cartoons, comics. I draw illustrations from textbooks and newspapers.
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“I draw hyperrealistic pencil works.”
One of the “wow” effects of Kareem’s pencil works is details. The details that Kareen creates in his pencil art works are so realistic that one is left to wonder how an 11 year-old could capture such details. Kareen says that he has two artistic idols, they are Nigerian artist Arinze Stanley, who himself is a hyper-realistic artist, and the Italian Renaissance master Michelangelo.
Olamilekan’s most famous work is the “Daily Bread”, the portrait shows a sweating young man eating in tears, his inspiration according to him is
“My family, we work hard before we put food in our mouths, before we eat,
“That’s what inspires me.”
Eli Waduba, is another 26 year old Nigeria-based pencil artist whose hyper-realistic pencil artwork is a joy to behold. Eli Waduba is a native of Kaduna state. Eli created a master piece of his favorite comedian Kevin Hart, put side by side, it is virtually impossible to “spot the difference”, the likeness is uncanny.
Eli Waduba placed a message on Twitter showing the Hart masterpiece, he just did it with the hope that his favorite comedian may perhaps see it one day, but two days and thousands of retweets later, Kevin Hart acknowledged Waduba’s drawing and even endorsed him for some more.
“I see it and I want to purchase it…I also want to support you and your amazing talent by giving you a fee to do a pencil drawing of 3 of my celebrity friends that I can gift it to. DM your info and let’s get to work.”
Waduba, was ecstatic with delight when Kevin Hart acknowledged his efforts and hard work. When chatting with a CNN correspondence Eli Waduba said
“I hoped he [Hart] would see it and actually believed he would see it someday,”
“But I did not know it would happen so fast.”
“It has been so overwhelming and words cannot describe it. Kevin Hart has always been my favorite comedian.
“We have started the process” [of selling the portraits].
Eli Waduba is a graduate of Cooperative Economics and Management from Kaduna State Polytechnic, according to Waduba, he has been drawing since he was nine and now works as a full-time artist.
“I loved drawing growing up but I knew I could be better when I saw the works of people like people Arinze Stanley, Kelvin Okafor and Ken Nwadiogbu,”
In 2016, the hyper-realist oil paintings by Olumide Oresegun hit the web, they were widely shared on social media because they were so natural and realistic that many took them to be actual pictures.
While speaking to CNN, a Nigerian art curator Akinyemi Adetunji said that the trend has been made possible mostly because of the power of social media.
“The Nigerian art circle used to be closed up. It was just made up of a few people who were avid collectors.
“But because of the influence of social media, it has opened up the industry to external influences, to many eyes.”
Ken Nwadiogbu, is a 23 year-old visual artist resident in Lagos, Nigeria, this young man specialises in 3D hyper-realistic drawings done with pencil and paper, his created pictures and portraits are so realistic that one is often forced to look twice to make sure they aren’t photographs, the details created by Ken in his portrait is so “wowish”, even the hair follicles stand out with such detail, it’s simply breath taking.
The strange thing about Ken’s art is that he is completely self-taught and for this reason he mentions that he has faced many challenges to become a recognised artist.
“I learnt the technique myself,
“I finished with a BSc in Civil Engineering. So I never went to an art school or had any formal education in art.”
After graduation, a hint that he was taking to art full time was met with resistance from his family.
“That’s “African Parents” for you,
“They were concerned about financial stability, and how the world will view you. We have so many road side artists in Lagos, so they were concerned I might be going towards that direction.
“5 years ago when I started art, there was little or no attention given it,
“There was no room to connect or understand art except if you went to an “art school”. There was this stigmatisation on artists who didn’t study art. It was hard for a young artist like myself to evolve.”
Today, however, Nigerians are getting better and becoming more aware of the art culture
“The art scene is growing. Now, I see young artists being inspired and trying to focus on their dreams. I can see opportunities springing up for even those who did not study art. So it’s a work in progress, and I’m thankful for that.”
What drives his passion for art? Ken says
“My art’s course is to pursue freedom of expression and belief, and to promote the voices of those rather unheard,” he said. “I also want to explore subtle desire and privilege. In The Nylon Series, there are views of enthusiasts of the typical African culture and morals. Okotogbam touches on emotion and strength of character, while The King’s Diary presents the possibilities of African Feminism, as seen in female patriarchy.”