Esref Armagan was born in 1953 in Istanbul, Turkey. He was born with one eye the size of a lentil and the other, though almost fully formed, totally non-functional. In his early childhood, Esref drew patterns using cardboard and nails; later he began drawing pictures using paper and pencil. He didn’t start out with the idea of becoming an artist: he just wanted to learn about the world around him. This “superhuman” who sees and discovers the world with his fingertips, made his first picture – a butterfly, using colored pencils – at around the age of 8. By 18, he was painting on poster paper with oil paints, and creating pictures became a passion for him.
In time, as Esref Armagan started using colors, perspective, shadow, light and balance in his pictures, he attracted the attention of international arts and scientists. In 2004, Harvard University, impressed by this genius, invited him for brain and eye scans. The results of those tests even surprised the scientists. The brain’s visual cortex, basically dark in the visually impaired, lit up when Esref touched an object and began drawing. After this, Esref became the subject of an article by the famous New Scientist magazine.
Since then, he has been featured in “The Real Superhumans” by Discovery Channel, an internet commercial for Volvo, Manifesta8 – the European Biennial of Contemporary Art, and numerous media interviews for television, radio and the press.
He has developed his own techniques in order to successfully depict a variety of topics. First he forms the total picture in his head, complete with the colors he will use. He uses only 5 colors plus black and white and mixes them to represent the image he has in mind. From then on it is a case of careful concentration to complete a picture to his satisfaction.