Some drawings look so lifelike you would never guess they were drawn. This is the art of hyperrealism, and amazing young African artists are actively making their mark in this field. They are hyper-talented, and their artwork will blow your mind.
You may have seen some of their art pieces on the internet and come across their creative journey stories as well.
Here are some of the incredibly skilled and talented hyperrealist artists from Africa taking the art world by storm.
Kareem Warris Olamilekan:
Kareem Olamilekan is a student of the Ayowole Academy of Art in Nigeria founded by graduate art student Adeniyi Adewole. The 12-year-old, also known as Waspa, describes himself as the “bitty artist.”
His talent caught the attention of French president Macron during his two-day visit to Nigeria. Olamilekan sketched a hyperrealist portrait of Macron in two hours while waiting for the president to arrive at the cultural showcase for the launch of the Season of African Cultural Season, slated for France in 2020. Nigerian singer, Banky W, who was the event host, presented the portrait to an emotional Macron.
This young talent revealed that Michelangelo and fellow Nigerian portraitist Arinze Stanley Egbengwu inspired him. He creates his art in an improvised studio in Lagos. Olamilekan mostly uses pencil and charcoal as mediums for creating portraits that are not only hyperrealistic but also deeply reflective of his environment. Occasionally, he adds ballpoint pen, paint, and pastels to his array of mediums for creating. This determined young artist is heading to great places.
Arinze was born on the 20th of November, 1993. He graduated from Imo State University, Nigeria with a Bachelor's of Engineering in agricultural engineering. This Nigerian artist is a self-taught, incredibly talented hyperrealist artist.
He started drawing portraits on paper from the age of 6. Arinze is known for his stunning pencil drawings. He mainly uses charcoal and graphite on paper as his mediums. His artworks usually depict political and social themes. He addresses issues such as modern slavery, racism, and feminism in his drawings.
Arinze follows a mantra of – Patience, Practice, and Persistence for creating. His inspiration comes from life and its experiences. The artist has said he loves provoking powerful emotions, and that is precisely what he does with his art.
Kelvin Okafor was born on the 1st of November, 1985. He began sharpening his drawing skills at 15 while he was studying at St Ignatius' College, Enfield, and went on to study Foundation Art & Design at City and Guilds Art School, which he graduated from in 2006. He also studied Fine Art at Middlesex University, graduating with a BA degree in 2009.
Okafor uses pencil and charcoal to draw incredibly realistic portraits of ordinary people as well as celebrities. He has drawn portraits of figures such as Mother Theresa, Nelson Mandela, Lauryn Hill, Beyoncé, Rihanna, Naomi Campbell, and Daniel Craig.
His art is soft, subtle, precise, and intense. The artist is currently working on the theme of solitude as his latest project depicts closed eyes, provoking thoughts about what makes people shut their eyes and go inside themselves. Kelvin says he’s inspired by the progression and productivity not just as an artist but as an individual.
Akande was born in Maiduguri, Northern Nigeria. He started sketching and comic drawing at about 7 years old. He studied Accounting at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria. Akande started seriously drawing once he finished university. He uses charcoal as his medium of expression to draw beautiful hyperrealistic portraits.
He draws his inspiration from “anything beautiful and natural.” His work has been featured in Artifact NY, Oxford in the UK and World Art Dubai. Akande’s portraits are very striking as he pays close attention to subtle detail. The artist shares his portrait creation process and works in progress on his social media from time to time.
Akande was awarded one of the most valuable art awards - the International Galileo Galilei prize/award in 2017.
Clavers Odhiambo is an oil painter from Kenya. He was born in 1995, and he has been creating realism portraits since 2014. He graduated with a B.A. in Design from the University of Nairobi in 2007.
He began drawing with a pencil while in high school, then he switched to acrylic on paper then finally settled on canvas. Odhiambo taught himself the art of hyperrealistic drawing by learning from YouTube and other artist’s pieces. He gets his inspiration from artists who create photographic-like art. He creates brilliant oil paintings of human activities and figures.
One of his portraits was selected as a gift to the President of Seychelles when he visited Kenya. The talented artist prefers to display his work at exhibitions or have them commissioned. The artist currently has his studio in Pangani, Nairobi.
Ayo Filade, born in 1990, started drawing from a very young age. His father was an artist, and he picked up several drawing skills from him. He studied Architecture at the University of Nottingham.
Filade describes his style as a combination of surrealism and hyperrealism. The amazingly talented who’s also known as AyoDraws artist uses pencils, charcoals, pastels, and paper to create simple portraits or provoking unnerving scenes. He has expressed his wish to work with oils as a medium of creating.
This incredible talent is inspired by nature, life, culture, and the complexities of the mind. His portraits are unique and sometimes border on insane. In his pieces, he mainly focuses on the contrasts in skin texture and lighting. He also pays impressive attention to detail.
Raji Bamidele, also known as Radelart on the social media sphere is a Nigerian contemporary hyperrealist artist. Bamidele was born and bred in Lagos, but he’s a native of Kogi state. From childhood, he had been intrigued by the art of creating. The self-taught artist merges figurative conceptual art with hyperrealism to create what he terms “puzzled realism.” In his pieces, he focuses on details, lighting, and texture contrast.
He mostly uses charcoal as his medium with an addition of a colour palette featuring black, white, rhinestones and gold. His pieces reflect the natural laws, philosophies, and mathematical as well as scientific principles. Bamidele creates art that takes an in-depth look at man’s everyday inner practices.
Chiamonwu was born on the 1st of December, 1995, an indigene of Anambra state, Nigeria. She graduated from Nnamdi Azikiwe University with a B.A.Ed. in English Education, started drawing and sketching at 8 years old.
She got into the hyperrealism genre in 2014. Chiamonwu uses graphite, charcoal pencils as her medium of creating. Her inspiration comes from the stirring, lush history and cultures of Africa. She explores these traditions and cultural values of the African society in her incredibly detailed pieces.
Chiamonwu refers to herself as an artist with a story. There is always a story behind each art piece she creates.
Babajide Olatunji, born in 1989, comes from Okitipupa in Ondo state, Nigeria. He’s a graduate of Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria. He began painting and drawing at about 4 years of age.
The self-taught artist uses charcoal, oil, pastels, and paper as his medium. His work is inspired by Nigerian culture. His incredible hyperrealistic pieces are an expression of how old histories and traditions are echoed in today’s society.
Behind each pieces, he creates lies extensive research and intense attention to detail. Olatunji’s Tribal Marks Series is an impressive example of his dedication to making his craft timeless. The series is a compilation of hyperrealist pieces that centre on the tradition of facial scarring.
Nwadiogbu was born in 1994 in Surulere, Lagos, Nigeria. He is a graduate of the University of Lagos, where he studied Civil and Environmental Engineering. He usually goes by the name – KenArt. This self-taught artist is of the pioneers in the genre of Contempo realism. This genre is a blend of contemporary art and hyperrealism.
He began his artistic journey after university. Nwadiogbu uses charcoal and graphite pencil as his medium. His brilliantly done pieces explore themes such as black power, African culture, and gender equality. His inspiration comes from his personal experiences as well as the society around him. He has sketched several famous figures, including Swizz Beatz, Burna boy, and Don Jazzy. Nwadiogbu or KenArt is a vocal voice in the activist community, and his pieces reflect that activism. He recently did a global piece as a contribution to the #metoo movement.
Olumide was born in 1981 in Ikorodu, Lagos State, Nigeria and began drawing at the age of 4. He attended the Yaba College of Technology for Fine Art and graduated in 2006. He started drawing professionally in 2005.
As a mediumg,he uses oil on canvas to create incredibly hyperrealistic pieces. His inspiration comes from the experiences of the people and the world around him. A core theme in a lot of his work is the use of water to give translucence and stunning attention to detail.
Bosokah was born in 1987 on the 17th of March. He comes from Volta, Ghana. He had his early education in Volta then moved on to study art at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology.
This hyperrealist artist uses a biro / pen as his chosen medium. He stated his reason for this choice as being the highly impactful and handy nature of the pen. However, he doesn’t see himself as just a pen artist; he has plans to explore other mediums in the future.
Bosokah has drawn portraits of icons such as Nelson Mandela, Kwame Nkrumah, and Bob Marley. His astonishingly lifelike pieces usually have people from the music, film, and political sphere as their subject. He also draws portraits of everyday individuals for his collection or on commission.
Art is evolving continuously, yet real art stays timeless. These artists are using their hyperrealist skills to create pieces that are sure to command respect long after their creators are gone. These young Africans are not just making art; they are creating a subculture fuelled by incredible creativity, talent, and persistence.
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