Self Portrait II (Nwanebuni)
Graphite, charcoal & black pencil on archival paper
Our 'in The Frame' project was created to give a voice to artists we thought were in some way prodigious, virtuoso, yet also untainted by the lure of commercialism. So it was a joy to share a coffee in our local Cafeteria, and spend a few minutes with our fourth artist - Kelvin Okafor, who appears genuinely gracious and affable.
With his first major solo exhibition only a week from opening, there was a tangible relief in his gentle banter. Kelvin had more or less just emerged from a concentrated period of creativity, one resulting in a rarified body of new creations, all bearing his signature highly-detailed, photo-realistic pencil portraiture.
Since leaving Middlesex University with a Degree in Fine Art, Kelvin's trajectory from studio to gallery has been rapid, and meteoric. Yet none of this seems surprising, when one takes the time to look through his many stunning drawings.
His working method explores the notion of the carbon copy - with a semi-obsessive eye for detail quite literally spiralling out from the tip of his pencil. "Perfection is an illusion," suggestions Kelvin. Which seems to confirm that his meticulous portraits are actually not just copies, but transformations; the original elevated to something almost spiritual.
An ability to visually explore the facial contours, and facets which make an individual, and then almost mechanically purge this information onto a canvas or piece of paper is an extraordinary process, limited to few. Put simply, Kelvin has a gift.
TAG would like to share that with all those who pass by his 'in The Frame' self-portrait this spring.
We also urge anyone with an interest in the arts to visit Kelvin's exhibition - Portraits, which opens on 9th May at the Albermarle Gallery, 49 Albermarle Street, W1.
Q&A to follow.
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