Art community eulogise late veteran artist, Yusuf Grillo

The art community on Tuesday in Lagos eulogised late veteran artist, Prof. Yusuf Grillo, for his contributions to the development of art within and outside the country.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that Grillo died on August 23, 2021 at the age of 86, after a brief illness, at the Gbagada General Hospital in Lagos.

During an “Art Talk” at the first year memorial reception organised by GRILLOArt Ltd., families, colleagues and art enthusiasts described Grillo as a humble personality.

The programme had the theme: “Yusuf Grillo: The Man, The Message, The Myth.”

Grillo’s daughter, Morayo Anthonio, while giving the opening address, said GRILLOArt Ltd. was borne out of the realisation of the magnitude and worth of the work her father undertook in his lifetime.

“We have chosen to preserve part of our shared history by embarking on the Yusuf Grillo Memorial Museum project. This project aims to preserve the workspace of our late father.

“This will serve as exhibit and resource center for artists of this generation and for generations to come, so help us God, Amen. The pian is to open up the structure that used to be his house, his studio, workshop and the office to the public.

“The structure is being remodeled to incorporate a museum to exhibit the artist’s personal art collection and some of the artefacts from his life, for field trips for schools and institutions and art tourism in general,” she said.

Dr Kolade Oshinowo, an artist, recalled that the first exhibition he had in Lagos was courtesy of late Prof. Grillo, who he said was accommodating and always after his wellbeing.

“For me, that exhibition was a major breakthrough and from then we bonded. Prof. Grillo allowed me to stand on his shoulder to see the horizon.

“Our relationship was more than that of a father and son. He manages his time well and has no time for lazy people. He doesn’t like unusual exposure and he fought to establish what art is now.

“He is a selfless man, a lot of people benefitted from him. Some of us are still going through the trauma of loosing him,” he said.

One of the founding fathers of Nigerian art, Pa Timothy Fasuyi, said he first met Prof. Grillo in 1956 and that  he was a hardworking man who made great fortune from his artworks.

“Grillo was hardworking and industrious, leading to a very flourishing professional practice. He made a lot of money from the sales of his art works and the proceeds of his commissions.

“I am mentioning all this to educate the young and upcoming artists that we need to supplement our talents with hard work to reach the top.

“Grillo could be seen as a man of God in his own right. He was a gentle and pleasant man; usually slow and calculating in his speech; slow to anger; always concerned about the welfare and progress of under privileged around him. He was a man of peace,” he said.

Mr Bernard Aina, a Sculptor, said, “Grillo’s paintings, subject matter,  present and contextualise on the Yoruba philosophy as an emerging contemporary or the modernity of Yoruba culture which focus on the female figure in the face of the new adopted ways of life.

“One critical effort noticeable in Grillo’s work is his attempt to reconcile the Yoruba aesthetic object with the feeling and craft of the Westem craftsmanship that he must have acquired from Zaria.

“His subject reflects both the Yoruba aesthetic object and the western drawing skills available in his painting compositions to be studied.”

Nigerian-American painter and art historian, Prof. Dele Jegede, commended the GRILLOArt Ltd., adding that a personality like Prof. Grillo should be immortalised.

“Immortality, is talking about Yusuf Grillo and entrenching his brand, the Grillo project. The aim is to place his name in human consciousness.

“We can continue to talk about him but I am particularly interested in getting to a point where his name becomes synonymous with Africa and Nigeria.

“We should brainstorm on immortalising him. Grillo is a man of peace, love and goodwill. I observe that aside being humble, he is a family man and a religious person ” he said.

Jegede added that Grillo was known for art, art education, humility, inclusiveness and religious tolerance.

He further proposed a “Grillo Project” to which he said there should be an annual fund raising to achieve its aim. (NAN)


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