by Ladun Ogidan
From October 12 to 31, Arthouse Contemporary will present Igi Araba, an exhibition of recent work by Yusuf Grillo, an iconic figure in narratives of modern Nigerian art. This exhibition marks a break from a 40-year hiatus and serves as a platform for the development and evolution of his artistic practice.
Yusuf Grillo emerged to prominence and international recognition in the 1960s and 1970s. He is well known for his distinctive style, which adopts the geometric planes of classical African sculpture and the rich blue hues of traditional Yoruba textiles.
Dr Kunle Filani asserts “Yusuf Grillo interrogates the traditional style of Yoruba carving and translates the forms into two-dimensional paintings, using excellent draughtsmanship to achieve schematic images that are seemingly arrested in restrained motion. The forms, often classified as Stylised Naturalism, have elongated figural images cast in elegant poses. He creates overlapping planes both in the foreground and the background of the composition. The figures and images are made to resonate with a sublime effusion of mauves. “
Much of Grillo’s legacy rests on his achievements as an educationist. A leading member of the Yaba figurative school, he served for many years as the director of the School of Art, Design and Technology of the Yaba College of Technology. He was the first president of the Society of Nigerian Artists, and served for over sixteen years from inception in 1964.
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