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11-Year-Old Nigerian Artist Is Gaining International Acclaim for Lifelike Portraits

Kareem Waris Olamilekan

Kareem Waris Olamilekan, known as Waspa, is the youngest living artist in Nigeria at the age of 11. He has been a professional artist for the last three years, garnering global attention for his hyperrealistic pencil art. Olamilekan even had the honor of drawing a portrait of President Emmanuel Macron of France on July 3 at the Celebrate Africa event in Lagos, according to CNN.

It reportedly took the young child only two hours to sketch the photo of president Macron as a crowd waited for him to arrive at Fela Kuti’s New Africa Shrine.

The young artist began to draw at 6 years old and now attends art school at a makeshift studio in a neighborhood in Lagos, reports CTGN. Olamilekan creates portraits of his family, friends and other figures in his community. Each drawing is full of detail, which he says he gets through “patience,” and delivers messages about his environment.

The young prodigy’s art teacher says he sees him as “the DaVinci of Nigeria.” His artistic idols are Italian Renaissance mixed-medium artist Michelangelo and fellow Nigerian portraitist Arinze Stanley, who also draws in pencil. While Olamilekan’s pencil work is gaining attention, he also works in other mediums including pastel, pen and paint. Outside of portrait work the 11-year-old draws cartoons and comics, as reported by BBC Africa.

“I want to be a great artist among the great artists in the whole wide world,” Olamilekan says. “And I want some of my artwork to be in international museums. I want myself in the highest place.”

Watch the artist’s interview in full below.

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