Kareem Waris Olamilekan has become an overnight internet sensation for all the right reasons. The 11 year old prodigy (yes, 11) is a professional artist known for his hyperrealistic life-like portraits and meticulous attention to detail. Born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria, Walis began drawing in school at the age of 6, and by the age of 8 he had turned his passion into a professional career.
And the attention has come with many perks for Kareem. Earlier this month, he met President Emmanuel Macron of France at the Celebrate African Culture event in Lagos and drew a live portrait of the leader in just two hours.
Kareem says that the entire ordeal was tremendously nerve-wracking for him and his legs were shaking the entire time. But if he really was as nervous as he says he was, he left virtually no trace of it in the seamless, detailed portrait of the President.
What is perhaps most impressive about Kareem’s art (aside from the obvious visual component), is the fact that much of his work also carries a symbolic meaning. In an interview with The Root, Kareem discussed his vision behind this particular drawing.
The sweat symbolizes hard work and struggle, whereas the spoon symbolizes food- a human right which Kareem says, “Everybody in my society has little (food) now. On my streets, they struggle, they sweat for their (food).”
If only we could all strive to attain this level of wisdom that this 11 year old prodigy has! Kareem hopes to have his artwork displayed in museums, and judging by the impeccable level of talent he already displays at such a young age, we definitely think that it is in his future.