Kareem Waris Olamilekan, better known as WASPA ART, is a hyperrealism artist from Nigeria. At just eleven, the young superstar is gaining global fame for his hyperrealism portraits of his friends, neighbors, and family members. Working mostly with pencil but occasionally pastels, paints, and ballpoint pen, his portraits are lively, expressive, and touching depictions of his community.
Dubbed ‘Africa’s youngest professional artist’, WASPA rose to international fame last year after he was commissioned to paint a portrait of French President Emmanuel Macron live on stage during the cultural event ‘A Celebration Of African Culture’ in Lagos. Kareem has been drawing since the age of six and sold his first piece at just eight years old. He sites famed Nigerian hyperrealism artist, Arinze, as his inspiration as well as the portrait work of Michelangelo.
In addition to regular schooling, WASPA has been enrolled at the Ayowole Academy of Arts for more than two years. The art school was founded by art school graduates Ayodeji Aladejare and Adeniyi Adewole Wasiu who WASPA sights as major supporters of his career. The school is located in the Iyana Ipaja area of Lagos and is free to join. With the help of his two mentors, WASPA was able to refine his portraiture skills and begin selling his art professionally. The school provides technical training as well as broader education on the art market and best practices for producing and selling artwork.
Though WASPA describes himself as a “bitty artist”, his dream are anything but small. His ultimate goal is to see his portraits hung on the wall of a major museum.
WASPA ART has appeared in BBC Africa and a slew of international publications over the last year. It seems that this young prodigy is only at the start of what promises to be a rich career.