Tuesday 30 January 2024

Legacy of Timothy Adebanjo Fasuyi (1936-2024), as modernist, educationist

Timothy Adebanjo Fasuyi.

AS one of Nigeria's modern masters, Timothy Adebanjo Fasuyi, also known as TAFAS, combined his career as an artist with being a great education administrator. He has been credited with establishing quite a number of institutions of creative and non-culture facilities of government origin.    Fasuyi, a native of Isona, Osun State, served as Federal Art Adviser. He retired from the Ministry of Education on his 50th birthday. 

One of his children, Akin Fasuyi announced the death of the modernist on January 27, 2024. "The Enigmatic Artist and Educationist Tafas (T.A. FASUYI) went to repose in the Lord early this morning," Akin disclosed. "He was due to be 89 in a few months' time." 

Fasuyi was admitted to study Fine Art at Nigerian College of  Arts, Science and Technology (now Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria) in 1954. His first employment as an art teacher was at St. John’s Teacher’s College, Owo in Ondo State, where he taught for 14 months before his appointment as art education officer at the prestigious Kings College, Lagos. 

A pioneer member of the Society of Nigerian Artists (SNA), he served as the first secretary, with Yusuf Grillo as president then. He represented the Federal Ministry of Education at interview panels for new entrants into the Federal Service Commission to Canada and the United States, visiting 10 cities in both countries to recruit new officers. He also established the National Children’s Art Exhibition as part of the National Festival of Art and Culture, which rotated among the state capitals. He was the first Nigerian member of International Association of Artists (IAA), based in Paris, and later elected vice president. To his credit, he ensured that the SNA had affiliation to the IAA.

Fasuyi is also credited with the establishment of the National Council for Art and Culture (NCAC), with state branches by merging the Northern Art Group, under Maitama Sule, with the Southern Art and Human Society, under Kola Balogun. 

Although an artist, Fasuyi had a long career in the education sector, where he was also an administrator. For example, it has been established that he spent the last six years of his career at the Federal Ministry of Education to improve Federal Government Colleges nationwide. As an educationist, Fasuyi ensured that art endured as every Federal Government School, to have at least, one art teacher.

In a tribute, one of Fasuyi's colleagues, master printmaker, Dr Bruce Onobrakpeya recalled that the late modernist, a founding father of the SNA, left a strong legacy. "His role in nurturing the SNA was pivotal, fostering a community where artists could collaborate and flourish," Onobrakpeya noted. "His leadership was not just administrative; it was inspirational, empowering artists to explore and express, shaping a vibrant artistic culture in Nigeria."

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In 2017, National Gallery of Art (NGA) celebrated Fasuyi's 80th birthday. At Fasuyi’s 82nd birthday the then Director-General, Abdullahi Muku disclosed that government was going to start documentation of artists in a book form, using the celebrant as a flag off point. “NGA has captured Fasuyi (Tafas) in over 200 pages. We have quite a lot of artists on the waiting list to document, as part of the NGA’s many projects for artists.”

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