Afghan child holds art show to help cancer victim
BELGRADE — An Afghan boy dubbed “little Picasso” exhibited his paintings and photographs in Belgrade on Wednesday, hoping to raise money for a Serbian child’s post-cancer therapy.
Farhad Noory, 10, has lived in a refugee camp in the city with his parents and two younger brothers for eight months, during which time his paintings of famous people have made him a local media star.
His range of portraits include German Chancellor Angela Merkel, surrealist painter Salvador Dali and footballer Cristiano Ronaldo.
Noory’s family is part of the recent wave of migrants from South Asia, the Middle East and Africa who hoped to start new lives in Europe but got stuck in Serbia after a route was closed in 2016.
The boy’s gift for art was spotted during language and painting workshops in Belgrade that were organized by local aid groups for refugees and migrants.
“We quickly realized how talented he was and sent him to a painting school as well as a three-month photography workshop. So this is a retrospective of what he learned there,” says Edin Sinanovic of the Refugees Foundation, a local NGO.
In addition to holding his first exhibition, “Farhad wanted to help someone. So he chose to dedicate it to a 6-year-old Serbian boy who needs funds for his therapy after brain cancer,” Sinanovic says.
Dressed in a black T-shirt and jeans, Noory, who speaks a little English, says he was “feeling stressed” at his first exhibition.
The smiling young artist says he wanted to help a child in difficulty because “we need to be kind”, and he hopes to meet the boy for whom he was fundraising.
In aid of the boy’s therapy, Noory sold his photographs of everyday life in the city and prints of his paintings for 250 to 800 dinars ($2.5-8).
At the one-day exhibition in a cafe in central Belgrade, extra donations were collected in an old guitar case. Noory was to keep the proceeds from his original paintings, which were auctioned at the starting price of 2,500 dinars.
His family is among some 4,500 migrants staying in 18 state-run camps in Serbia now. Some 40 percent of them are children, according to Ivan Miskovic from the government’s refugee agency.
“They have taken a long, difficult, serious and dangerous trip,” Miskovic says, pledging to help Noory “develop his gift”.
The youngster says he would like to go to Switzerland to study painting and languages, and the official expressed hope that the migrants would eventually reach their preferred destinations.
Wang Fuchun’s black-and-white photographs reveal the lives of passengers on trains.
Farhad Noory from Afghanistan looks at one of his artworks during his first exhibition in Belgrade.