Kelvin Okafor’s hyper-realist drawings are regularly confused with photographs.
Kelvin is the first commissioned artist to have a pencil portrait on permanent display in the House of Commons.
The term ‘Emotional Realism’ was coined in response to Kelvin’s expressive works.

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 Okafor’s Education and Early Career

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.

Collections and Exhibitions

Among his most notable works, one of Kelvin’s most ambitious pieces to date is John Lennon (2019), a blend of graphite and charcoal pencil. The portrait took more than 215 hours to accomplish. His work has been exhibited at top galleries across the country. If you’d like to learn more about the artist’s painstaking photorealistic portraits and exhibitions, read our article on Kelvin’s Emotional Realism.

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