Yusuf Adebayo Cameron Grillo (Nigerian, born 1934) The Duet
Lot 19
Yusuf Adebayo Cameron Grillo
(Nigerian, born 1934)
The Duet
Sold for £87,500 (US$ 115,462) inc. premium

Lot Details
Yusuf Adebayo Cameron Grillo (Nigerian, born 1934) The Duet
Yusuf Adebayo Cameron Grillo (Nigerian, born 1934)
The Duet
bears label inscribed with artist's name and title (verso)
oil on board
122 x 92cm (48 1/16 x 36 1/4in).

Footnotes

  • Provenance
    Acquired directly from the artist.
    By descent to the current owner.

    Exhibited
    London, Commonwealth Institute Art Gallery, Olayinka Burney - Nicol Yusuf Grillo Mwariko Omari, 5 July - 30 July 1972.


    Unlike his stained glass and mural work, Grillo's paintings were rarely the result of commissions. In an interview in 2005, the artist revealed that painting was his preferred medium and the majority of his works were executed for his own enjoyment. Consequently the themes and concepts are of his own devising, and not subject to the dictates of "market requirements".

    Music-making is a recurring motif in Grillo's work. He was raised in the Brazilian Quarters in Lagos, an area renowned for the quality of of its live bands. As a child, he and his peers would sit behind these bands at birthdays, marriages and naming ceremonies to better study the performers. He later reminisced about the powerful allure of these figures:

    "I used to go close, watch and join the music, look at the dancers and join them too. They made a very, very strong impression, an indelible impression. And what interests me most is what the drummers do when they are not actually playing. That is, when they have an interval at which time they try to re-tune their instruments..." (Grillo, 2005).

    These childhood experiences would inspire some of the artist's most popular works including Drummer and Apprentice, Quartet, Trio, and Drummer's Return. The current lot, The Duet, depicts two players engaged in a musical dialogue. Their bodies turn in towards one another, heads inclined towards the instruments. The intensity of their focus suggests that in the height of their music making, they have become possessed, entering a trance-like state. This image of music as a vehicle for transcendence reflects the awe Grillo felt watching such performers as a child, but it also draws on the ancient practice of drumming at ritual ceremonies as a way of invoking the spirit world.

    Bibliography
    S. Ikpakronyi, 'Yusuf Adebayo Grillo: A Most Distinguished, yet Uncelebrated Nigerian Artist', in Dike & Oyelola, Master of Masters Yusuf Grillo: His Life and Works, (Lagos, 2006), pp.42-46, 66.
    B. Kelly, Nigerian Artists: A Who's Who and Bibliography, (London, 1993), p.230.
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