Grillo is not a prolific painter, but as a member of the Zaria School, he is among Nigeria’s most important artists. It can take him months or even years to work a painting to a state where he is comfortable letting it go. He takes his subject matter from human activity in the world around him, particularly the Yoruba world.
The family of Professor Yusuf Adebayo Grillo has announced the passing away of patriarch, who died in the early hours of Monday, August 23, 2021 at the age of 87.
According to a release by Otunba Babatunde Grillo, the veteran painter died at the Gbagada General Hospital in Lagos state after a ‘brief illness’.
Professor Grillo, who lived at 28, Ogunlowo Street, Ikeja was a contemporary artist and a prominent member of the art community.
Grillo 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 for study at the academic halls of Cambridge University and later traveled to Germany and the United States of America.
Born in 1934 in the Brazilian quarters of Lagos, Yusuf Grillo went on to become one of the most influential figures in Nigerian art. After studying extensively in Nigeria and the UK, Grillo became the Head of the Department of Art and Printing at Yaba College of Technology, a post he retained for more than 25 years.
In Nigeria, Grillo’s stained glass and mosaic works have been commissioned for a number of public buildings including churches, universities, government buildings and the Murtala Mohammed International airport.
He was considered one of Nigeria’s outstanding and academically trained painters; he emerged to prominence and international recognition in the 1960s and 1970s, while exhibiting a large collection of his early works.
Grillo made use of his western art training in many of his paintings, combining western art techniques with traditional Yoruba sculpture characteristics. His preference for color blue in natural settings paintings was sometimes similar to the adire or resist-dye textiles used in Nigeria.