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Advait Kolarkar

Advait Kolarkar has participated in at least 19 solo and group art shows in leading art galleries all over the world. The TOI #Unstoppable21 jury has picked the boy from Maharashtra as one of the Unstoppable 21 Indians under 21 years

Children his age are engrossed in cartoons and cricket, but Advait Kolarkar has already made his mark on the global art scene. Recently, one of his paintings sold for $16,800 – the highest that his artwork has been valued at so far – and the total value of his art sold till now amounts to over $300,000.

Called a child prodigy, 9-year-old Advait, who has no formal training, has participated in at least 19 solo and group art shows in leading art galleries all over the world. “I’m an abstract painter, my style is a lot like Jackson Pollock’s. But I also like to draw animals and fantasy creatures like dragons, and dinosaurs,” he says.

His favourite colour to paint with is black. “If we mix up all the colours together, the result is black. When I was younger, I used to play with paints more than anything else. If anyone asked me what I wanted, my answer was always ‘paints’. Now that I am growing up, I have other interests too. I like playing football with my friends outside, and playing with my toy dinosaurs and Lego blocks, and reading,” he says.

He is also writing a book: “I love horror stories so I am writing a book in this genre.

The child genius is homeschooled, but he also deep dives into research subjects. Currently, he is trying to learn all about Cubism, the early-20th-century avant-garde art movement headlined by Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Salvador Dali and other greats.

Advait’s mother Shruti says she had a strong feeling that he was going to be artistic even before he was born. Her hunch proved right when, at eight months, he started painting, and at the age of two he had his first solo art exhibition at Art2Day gallery in Pune.

“When he was a baby, it was like he knew how to paint already without anybody teaching him. We encouraged his interests, and by the time he was eight months old, he made his first painting. We did not send him for any art classes or hire a tutor for the subject because we wanted his own style to flourish, we were afraid that he might pick up the teacher’s style or have some obstruction to the flow of his own originality,” says Shruti, a digital artist.

She adds that Advait’s paintings debuted abroad with a solo show in Canada when he was just four years old. “All the paintings were kept on display for two months, but they were sold out within four days. Last June-July, his works were displayed at galleries in Laguna Beach, Lake Tahoe, Las Vegas, Key West and Fort Lauderdale in the US. He was again invited to have solo exhibitions in four premium art galleries across the US between January and March this year.”

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