The ‘little Picasso’ in Serbia

10-year-old artist Farhad Nouri is a refugee from Afghanistan

March 14, 2017 02:10 am | Updated March 21, 2017 01:20 pm IST - Belgrade

Farhad Nouri with his drawings at a refugee centre in Belgrade, Serbia.

Farhad Nouri with his drawings at a refugee centre in Belgrade, Serbia.

Farhad Nouri is known among migrants as Little Picasso.

The 10-year-old from Afghanistan, who is stranded in Serbia together with his parents and two younger brothers, has earned his nickname for two reasons: he knows how to draw and he loves Pablo Picasso.

Nouri’s drawing pad includes portraits of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, actor Angelina Jolie, artist Salvador Dali and Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic.

“Merkel maybe can do something to open the border,” Farhad said in English, which he has learned over the year since he fled war and poverty in his home country.

Farhad also likes to draw portraits of his family and friends, fairytale castles, nature or anything else that comes to mind. Painting, he said, has helped during the flight. “I was in Turkey, I was in Greece,” Farhad said of the trip. “Here in the camp I like my painting, I like drawing my feelings and faces.”

The Nouri family is among several thousand migrants who have been stuck in Serbia looking for ways to reach Western Europe amid closed borders and mounting anti-migrant sentiments.

Dreams for the future

Farhad said his family would like to go to Switzerland or the United States.

Memories of the family home in Afghanistan have been blurred, he said.

Farhad’s temporary home in Serbia where the family has formally applied for asylum is a narrow and damp room with bunk beds, a wardrobe and a small table. The former workers’ barracks had previously hosted refugees from the 1990s wars in the former Yugoslavia.

Farhad said he plays with other children in the refugee camp and attends Serbian language classes in the camp during the day. He usually draws at night, in his bed, while it is quiet outside. “I teach myself. Sometimes from the videos, on YouTube, and I learn,” he said.

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