Saturday 5 May 2012

Honour for master painter, Grillo

By Tajudeen Sowole
(First published on
Tuesday, February 16, 2010)
RENOWNED artist and art teacher, Prof. Yusuf Grillo and 18 others have been recognized for their contributions to the visual arts sub-sector of the culture industry.

Also, an art competition to be known as Grillo Secondary School Art Competition has been announced, among similar age group events named after other living and departed masters.

The awards, organized by School of Art, Design and Printing Technology, (ADPT), Yaba College of Technology, (Yabatech), Yaba, Lagos, were given to recipients as part of the institution's New Year Celebration and Award Day 2010 held recently.

Dean of Faculty, ADPT, Rukeme Noserime, while calling out the awardees inside the multi purpose Hall of the school noted that some of the recipients like Grillo "were the bedrock of the school." Conferring the award of "Faculty Founding Father Icon" on Grillo, Noserime recalled that, in the 1960s through 1970s, the name Grillo was synonymous with Yabatech.

The recipients were Dr. Ifakite Oshiga, Faculty Outstanding Master; Mrs Folorunso Alakija, Designer of the Decade; Sir Steve Omojafor, Advertising Icon of the Era; Kolade Oshinowo, Most Prolific Visual Artist of the Era; Art Historian/Critic Icon Kunle Filani; Sola Owojuyigbe, Faculty Outstanding Icon Award in Printing Tech; Mrs Adedoyin Ogunlesi and Mrs Clara Carew, Quintessential Icon Award in Fashion; Solomon Jejeola, Printing Technology of the Era Icon Award; Mary Kazim, Distinguished Photo Artist Icon.

Print artist, Kunle Adeyemi read the citations of Grillo and Filani. Other awardees included James Ayang, Long Service Award; Olubunmi Inegbe, Meritorious Service Award; Hakeem Deyemo, Most Dedicated Lecturer Award; G.O. Nwaji, Dedication and Long Service Award Emeritus; Tunde Medayese, Most Supportive Alumni Award; Ayoola Sodabe, Most Dedicated Student Award; Tina Amposah, Outstanding Academic Model of the Era Award.

Art competitions named after some living and departed masters include: Oshinowo Primary School Art Competition (OPSAC); Ben Enwonwu National Sculture Competition (BENCOM); Ogunlesi Carew Fashion Drive (OCFAD) for all secondary schools in Lagos and Sir Steve Omojafor Drive in Graphics (STODIG) for all tertiary institutions (400 level).

And what Noserime called National Strand for Innovation, Experimentation and Discovery (N.A.S.I.E.D) forum for "all professionals who are visual artists, environmental designers, technologists and sciences," is included in the new vision of the school. Presentation of papers and prototypes for the project, he explained, "will follow the Yabatech Grillo format of referencing known as Grillo Technical Format (GTF)."

Laudable programmes they are, but quite a loaded calendar for one institution.

For Grillo, honour is becoming a common exercise, these days: perhaps, the biggest outside the academia came almost a year ago when art patron, Chief Rasheed Gbadamosi donated a building as his contribution to the development of art. The one-storey red-brick building at Ikorodu, Lagos, country-home of Gbadamosi was named after Grillo. The elaborate unveiling ceremony featured a lecture, Behold the Rising Sun, Reflection on Modern and Contemporary Nigerian Art and delivered by Prof. Babatunde Lawal of Virginia Commonwealth University, U.S. and an interactive session tagged Freewheeling Discourse.

The Pavilion, according to Gbadamosi, was designed to be an art resource centre in line with his vision for the promotion of art. The choice of Grillo, Gbadamosi said, underscored the influence of the artist when the patron returned to Nigeria after his academic sojourn abroad. Grillo, he recalled, "appealed to me with his art when I returned home from Europe in1966."

Among the works of the artist that set Gbadamosi into the world of art collection was a piece titled Awopa Procession - a depiction of traditional ritual setting. Gbadamosi said the work reminded him of his early days in Isale Eko, Lagos Island. "The Awopa Procession fired up my passion: the way traditionalists file out; the mystery, Grillo's painting captured that procession vividly." Gbadamosi also recalled another piece of Grillo, a surreal work, Come With Me. He said, "you can write a volume on this work." He described Grillo as "captivating, enigmatic artist."

And to assure that the Pavilion would not be another flash in the pan, the coordinator of the event, Olu Ajayi, projected that "it could also offer residence programmes in the nearest future for artists" in addition to serving its primary function of immortalizing Grillo's legacy.

The master painter conceptualised and designed the building of ADPT, which was later named, Yusuf Grillo Building.

Also, the on-going recording of the documentary, Living Legends, under the coordination of Ajayi - which started with the Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka - had Grillo sat before over ten painters and sculptors who rendered his portrait in different medium.

Before then, the Guild of Professional Fine Artists of Nigeria (GFA) had honoured Grillo with what they called GFA's Fellows' Certificates last year. Recognized with the same honour were old masters such as printmaker, Bruce Onobrapkeya; multi media guru David Dale; and prolific painter Kolade Oshinowo.

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