Leading Nigerian Artist, Prof. Yusuf Grillo, Dies at 86 – THISDAY Newspapers

By Yinka Olatunbosun
One of Nigeria’s most celebrated contemporary artists, Prof. Yusuf Grillo, has died at 86.
In a statement released by his family, the pioneering modernist artist died after a brief illness at the Gbagada General Hospital in Lagos. Grillo had a prolific career which shaped the discourse of modern art in the country. As a member of the Zaria Arts Society, otherwise known as the ‘Zaria Rebels,’ Grillo blended his training in the western-representational style with a focus on Nigeria’s cultural history. He is renowned for the specific use of the color blue in his paintings, a reference to adire and resist-dye textiles used in Nigeria.
Born in December 1934 at the Brazilian Quarters in Lagos, he attended Nigerian College of Arts, Science and Technology, Zaria, where he received a Diploma in Fine Arts and a post-graduate diploma in education. In 1966, he left Zaria to study at the Cambridge University and later traveled to Germany and the United States of America. He would later become the founding President of the Society of Nigerian Artists.
A master of his craft, some of his iconic works include the stain glass drawings in churches such as Dominic Catholic Church and All Saints Anglican Church, Yaba. He engraved his marks deeply on the academic scene serving as the Head of the Department of Fine Arts, Yaba College of Technology for about 25 years; thus becoming very influentially in grooming many art masters from Nigeria. Grillo’s works are deeply influenced by the characteristics of traditional Yoruba philosophy and sculpture.
He would be buried later on Monday at the Atan Cemetery, Yaba, Lagos.

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