A 10-year-old refugee, who has attracted global attention and the nickname of “the little Picasso” for his artistic talent, is holding his first exhibition – and donating all the money raised at the event to a sick Serbian boy.
Farhad Nouri has been living in a refugee camp with his parents and two younger brothers in Belgrade’s Krnjača neighbourhood for the past eight months. The family was forced to flee conflict and poverty in their home country of Afghanistan two years ago, travelling through Greece and Turkey before arriving in Serbia. They hope to eventually start a peaceful new life somewhere in Western Europe.
Farhad describes childhood in his temporary home as “very difficult” but says he tries to use art as a release from the suffering because when he draws he can think of nothing else. “Only people here could really understand [how life is]. It’s so bad for me,” he told The Independent. “If you spent one week in this camp you would be crazy but I feel very good when I’m drawing. I feel better and I don’t think about how it was in Afghanistan. When I’m drawing I’m relaxed.”
Picasso, his hero
The spirited 10-year-old, who learned to speak English in just a year, began drawing at six years old after growing up watching his father create arabesque art in Afghanistan. He discovered he had a flair for drawing and has since sold artwork in Greece and Serbia. Farhad continues to hone his technique and spends his days sketching the people who inspire him, including Novak Djokovic, Cristiano Ronaldo, Angela Merkel, Salvador Dali and Pablo Picasso – his hero.
“When I started to paint at six years old I could not draw like I do now back then,” he said. “Now my favourite thing I like to paint is faces and portraits. I feel very good when I draw these people. Especially Picasso because he is my favourite artist.”
For Farhad, the exhibition is more than just a means of sharing his photographs, drawings and paintings with the world. He wants to use it to change the way people think and that, he says, is why choosing the name of the show was so important to him. He eventually decided to call it “We Need Kindness – The Dream of a Ten-Year-Old”.
He said: “I’m very happy. When I found out I was having the exhibition I didn’t know what to do [because of the excitement]. I spent all day thinking about what the name of it should be. I was talking to my father about being a refugee. He told me how…