Yusuf Adebayo Cameron Grillo (Nigerian, born 1934) Ayi and Tayi

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Lot 10
Yusuf Adebayo Cameron Grillo
(Nigerian, born 1934)
Ayi and Tayi

Sold for £ 225,250 (US$ 307,264) inc. premium
Yusuf Adebayo Cameron Grillo (Nigerian, born 1934)
Ayi and Tayi
inscribed 'AYI and TAYI/ Y. A. GRILLO/ 1981' (verso)
oil on canvas
126 x 89.5cm (49 5/8 x 35 1/4in).

Footnotes

  • One of the most accomplished and respected living Nigerian artists, Yusuf Grillo's career spans a remarkable six decades. His characteristic colour palette, cool blues and purples, and the geometric fragmentation of his compositions are instantly recognisable.

    Grillo began his artistic journey at the Nigerian College of Arts, Science and Technology in Zaria in 1955. Support for Nigerian independence was growing in strength during this period and inspired the young Grillo to formulate an aesthetic that both communicated and celebrated a distinctly Nigerian identity. He and a group of fellow students founded the Zaria Art Society, a group that opposed the hegemony of European art traditions in Nigeria's educational institutions.

    Grillo has said that there are two attributes that underpin his aesthetic: "originality and sincerity". Raised in the Brazilian quarter of Lagos, Grillo has a strong identification with cosmopolitan Yoruba culture. His art demonstrates a sincere appreciation for this heritage. In this portrait, we see two young Yoruba women, Ayi and Tayi. They are wearing traditional gele. Their figures are composed from overlapping, angular geometric planes. This fragmentation is reminiscent of the work of European avant garde modernists like Picasso or Braque, but it also echoes the ancient tradition of Yoruba sculpture. The very carvings that so inspired Picasso and his peers.

    Grillo explained the importance of Yoruba culture on his aesthetics in an interview in 1998:

    "The very first thing for an artist to do is to know who he or she is. You have to know where you are coming from. You have to know your roots. For example, if you have been born in Benin, you have to know Benin, its traditions and history...in the same vein, if a Yoruba person knows that he is part of cultural artefacts such as masks, the Gelede, the Ibeji statuettes and the Sanogo figurines, he knows what they mean and are used for, he identifies with them and equally embraces them because he is part of them. Therefore, whatever he intends to produce as a genuine and sincere artist will reflect all of these."

    Bibliography:
    P.C. Dike, ed. The Zaria Art Society: A New Consciousness, 'Yusuf Grillo: Interview by Mike Omoighe' (Lagos, 1998) p.64.
Contacts
Yusuf Adebayo Cameron Grillo (Nigerian, born 1934) Ayi and Tayi
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