Hyper-realist artist Kelvin Okafor (born 1985) specialises in pencil portraits. Kelvin has often and aptly used the term ‘aliveness’ to express the technical and sentimental value of his realistic drawings; the sensitive strokes and subtle accuracy of his style flawlessly mimic the contours of a photograph to the extent that his drawings are regularly confused with real photography. That said, the aim of Kelvin’s work is not to emulate photographs but rather to expose the pure humanity and life of his subjects.
Kelvin studied a Foundation course in Art & Design at City & Guilds Art School. He then became a graduate of Middlesex University with a B.A. (Hon)s in Fine Art. Kelvin patiently mastered the ability to create incredibly refined tones and textures on paper, giving the illusion of colour with single shades of lead. His first solo show took place at the Albemarle Gallery in London and was a huge success, resulting in over fifty commissions. He has since taken home numerous national awards and endless critical acclaim for his art.
Among Kelvin’s most notable works are portraits of John Lennon, Kate Moss and Skepta. His graphite and charcoal pencil drawing of John Lennon (2019) took more than 215 hours to accomplish and his portrait of Kate Moss set records at Bonhams, selling for over fours times the estimated price.
Kelvin’s work has been exhibited at top galleries across the country. He was featured in the BBC’s Extraordinary Portraits series, where he produced a portrait of Catrin Pugh. If you’d like to learn more about the artist’s photorealistic portraits, read our article on Kelvin’s Emotional Realism.
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