Black and white photographs are certainly making a comeback. If you happen to see the works of Arinze Stanley, you’d surely be impressed with his black and white photographs. But wait! These are no photographs, but realistic renderings of charcoal and graphite on paper! Difficult to believe, isn’t it?
Well, so is the rise of this amazing self-taught Nigerian artist. Born in Lagos, Nigeria in 1993 as Arinze Stanley Egbengwu, this amazing artist was only six when he started showing the inclination towards drawing realistic portraits on paper. This passion was fueled by the fact that his family was involved in paper business and he just needed to put pencil to paper.
Although Stanley remained passionate about his art, he went on to graduate in agricultural engineering from Imo State University. But, he did not give up his passion and gradually mastered pencil art all by himself. His buddies in this quest were, what he calls, his three P’s – Patience, Practice and Persistence. These three words have guided him ever since.
Stanley pursued Hyperrealism in the right earnest. This genre of illustration, painting or sculpture resembles a high-resolution photograph. Spending hundreds of hours hunched over the paper, he just would not let up till he has worked out every detail of his subject that may range from skin texture, hair to even sweat beads. His works were so life-like that they were simply indistinguishable from black and white photographs. What’s more, his viewers feel an instant emotional connect with his works.
For Stanley, his art soon became a medium for expressing pressing matters for his community that highlighted modern slavery, feminism, social and political activism, etc. This gave him a sense of purpose for producing works that were both meaningful and hard-hitting.
So, what motivates Stanley? He explains this, “My art is born out of the zeal for perfection both in skill, expression and devotion to creating positive changes in the world. I draw inspiration from life experiences and basically, everything that sparks a feeling of necessity, I find myself spending countless hours working on an artwork to stimulate deep and strong emotions in order to connect more intimately with my viewers.”
Stanley’s outstanding work has received a number of awards, such as the ‘World’s Best Self-Portrait’ in American art awards 2017, a Cultural Achievement award in Junior Chambers International, 2018, and many more. In 2016, his works were exhibited at the Omenka Gallery, Lagos, Nigeria and in 2017, at Scope Art Show during Miami Art Week. Over 120,000 fans follow him on Instagram.