Artist Enfant Précoce, also known as Francis Essoua Kalu, has the most captivating sense of style. As a self-taught artist and extremely gifted dancer, he gained notoriety in the art scene as a bohemian shy-socialite model in Paris, as a friend and collaborator of the Walk in Paris fashion brand collective and of course for his outstanding artwork.
Guided by his talented uncle Malam, the Cameroonian sculptor, and friend Leo Walks Enfant Précoce, Francis, has built a name for himself. He knows the art and fashion world, how much we love a story - and how to tell them. Francis created a fun video and photography series Exposez-moi (Exhibit me) ahead of his exhibition in 2018 at La Montgolfière club in Paris, in which he took to the streets. The artist stood outside of esteemed museums posing in front of his works until he was finally recognised for an exhibition - a beautiful, albeit not completely true story. METAL's Features Editor, Bella Spratley, invited him to exhibit at the club before the Exposez-moi series was taken after meeting at a fashion party - of outsiders breaking in - in Paris. A beautiful and engaging dreamer, Enfant Précoce knows how to play the game. Now he has another special project his new Printemps Cachemire collection - that seems to preempt the release of some fashion garments designed by Francis himself - fingers crossed!

"PS. Never compare Enfant Précoce to Basquiat - he's bored of it and it's not true." - Bella
Enfant Precoce Metalmagazine 5.jpg
One of your latest paintings titled Banc de Tournesols (Bench of Sunflowers) uses vibrant colours sensitively to create depth. What inspired you to use such bold, black lines that are in high contrast to your patterns which hold lots of texture?
Hello METAL Magazine! When I painted Banc de Tournesols I was inspired by my love for fashion, colours, textiles fabrics and patterns. Black lines represent my identity, they are the tailor seams.
Tell me about your new series Printemps Cachemire 2021 (Spring Cashmere 2021). How is different from the previous works you have done?
The Printemps Cachemire series will be my first clothing collection. During my first years of painting, I used to have this side project: I wanted to create my clothing label. Unfortunately, and until this day, the clothing project didn’t happen. That's why I want to paint my first clothing collection through the series Printemps Cachemire, almost like an homage to things that haven't happened yet.
Your artwork is very creative, bright and personal. How does your work, especially your new Printemps Cachemire series, reflect who you are as a person?
This painting started almost 10 years ago, during the period when I was just arriving in Paris. I remember that I used to go thrift shopping every day to find new looks. I wanted to be noticed for my sense of style. I’m quite an introvert but I was amazed at the city’s energy. I'm still passionate about the artistic scene here from designers, painters, dancers, musicians to DJs Paris is a truly vibrant city. Formerly I am trained as a dancer, I always had an interest in fashion. I wanted already to create my own clothing label. And in a way, through my paintings, I became a tailor and a designer.
What is the significance of posing in front of your art and what impact do you think this has on your brand image as well as your career?
I do it genuinely, without thinking about it, really. It’s just me posing in front of my art. There is no branding or image strategy behind it.
Enfant Precoce Metalmagazine 9.jpg
I’ve noticed frequent characteristics of cubism in a lot of your works. Do you agree with this observation and how would you define the type of art you create?
I like to think that my creations are not defined. I paint human beings with masks representing happy or melancholic faces from diverse protagonists of our ever-changing society. I purposefully paint my shapes as angled bodies. I apply the colors as a representation of the light, and define them with the black lines. As a self-educated artist, I have a process of research to complete my works, and I’m learning every day.
What impact do you think Instagram and other forms of social media have had on your career as an artist? Besides your second accounts @somedaysinenfantlife and @tatouagesdenfant, do you have any future plans or ideas for how to broadcast your artistic vision on these platforms?
Digital platforms allow me to share my art as a mutual passion with artists from all over the world. It gave me the opportunity to travel and meet a lot of different artists and perspectives. Discovering the immensity of what exists out there, is profoundly inspiring to me.
I never stop thinking about new ideas of how to share my art, and they are not only on digital.
As a self-taught artist, as well as your field frequently requiring a lot of connections for success, what were some of the biggest challenges you faced when trying to break into the Paris art scene? 
It has been now 12 years since I first started going out in Paris to dance [and party], 10 years since I moved to live here, and 8 years since I began painting. The most difficult thing in my life path was to increase my self-confidence.
I have always been inspired by my uncle's artistic journey. Like him, I had to find time to express my passion, to establish myself.
This is why in 2017, I decided to be an artist, to engage myself, and make a living from my art. At those early times, I wasn’t getting enough money to support the cost of living in Paris. But you know, I still managed to pay my rent. And most importantly, I was happy with my bohemian life, happy to be able to paint every day, to see myself evolve, learn and develop my art.
Enfant Precoce Metalmagazine 6.jpg
What are some of the things you do in order to stay mentally and inspirationally aligned with your work?
To stay focused and aligned, I do several things: I keep curiosity at the heart of my philosophy and the way I see the world surrounding me. I open myself, as much as possible to the world, so I can try to understand the different perspectives of life and arts. I’m interested in music, cinema and reading. And there’s a high chance you will bump into me exploring small art galleries and museums in Paris.
Along with your paintings, you make brilliant and unique tattoos. Is this something you want to focus on more with your professional career as an artist, or more of a hobby done on the side?
It’s true that since the [Covid-19] crisis, I haven't had the opportunity to tattoo as much recently. But it is something I love doing, I will be back soon.
You are an artist many different senses of the word. Whether it be painting, dancing or anything else, how do the other forms of art you make influence the pieces you are creating today?
It's like feeling a vibration: When I paint in my art studio, music helps me. I always find myself moving and dancing, this is part of my creative process. I also love documenting scenes [from my life] inside my studio through videos and photos. They all co-exist when I create my art.
As an artist who never went to art school and is a self-taught painter, you have a unique perspective on the art industry. What advice would you give to someone who wants to start in this field but doesn’t have the resources to have the traditional ways of learning this trade?
Just try to be confident in your work, in your passion. Allow yourself to dream, put all your guts and love into your art. Don't forget to enjoy life and its inspiriting moments and life lessons that we receive. Be curious, always.
Enfant Precoce Metalmagazine 4.jpg
Can you talk a little about your creative process and the things in your life that help inspire you to make such captivating artwork?
To create, I seize everything that I can around me. Absolutely anything can be potentially inspiring to create a piece of art. As an introvert, I’m always watching around me or listening to strangers' conversations. And then, fed by all that, I let my imagination wander… And it systemically transforms into a mental painting. And always, music and reading are my faithful allies to find new inspirations.
As you develop more and more in your professional career, are there other art genres you want to branch into? Are you currently dipping your toes into different styles?
Art is so diverse, there is a plethora of disciplines that I would like to do as an artist but like every discipline you need time, technique, and devotion. I usually let myself be carried away by time, but I am [also] always picturing new sculptures or construction concepts [to do]. 
What does the future look like for Enfant Précoce? Do you have any future works or series you are waiting to release?
I will just keep on dreaming with you, giving life to more imaginary ideas, more metaphoric poetry, more colours…
Enfant Precoce Metalmagazine 1.jpg
Enfant Precoce Metalmagazine 7.jpg
Enfant Precoce Metalmagazine 2.jpg
Enfant Precoce Metalmagazine 8.jpg
Enfant Precoce Metalmagazine 3.jpg
Enfant Precoce Metalmagazine 10.jpg