Yusuf Adebayo Cameron Grillo (Nigerian, born 1934)
The Mourners oil on canvas 75.5 x 49cm (29 3/4 x 19 5/16in).
PROVENANCE: Acquired in Lagos, Nigeria circa 1965 A private collection
As one of the principle figures in contemporary Nigerian art, Yusuf Adebayo Grillo has made significant contributions to modern Nigerian art practice and education. Grillo considers himself to be primarily a painter. However, he is adept in a number of other artistic disciplines, particularly those with a grand architectural influence such as sculpture, mosaic and stained glass. His ability in these media has in turn influenced his painting style, such that the composition in his paintings is commonly likened to that of stained glass window work.
The Mourners is characterised by the delicate rendering of "figures illuminated by shades of blue, purple and white... The colours transform them into religious deities, suffering saints", reinforced by the rhythmic repetition of their bowed heads and bodies hunched over in lament. As a whole, the work exudes a palpable sense of spirituality. As is common in Grillo's work, these figures are "imbued with human frailties, the frame of reference being tough challenges inherent in urban living".
BIBLIOGRAPHY: C. Dike & P. Oyelola, Master of Masters. Yusuf Grillo: His Life and Works, (Nigeria, 2006), p.110; p.113