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Yemi Odetayo

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Yemi Odetayo showcases his ability of colour at an exhibition in Lagos

By Nehru Odeh

Yemi Odetayo is an artisan in adulation with colour. Not abandoned does he bouncer his ability jealously, he is apprenticed by a amorous admiration to accurate his affections with explosions of colour. This explains why the Yaba College of Technology accomplished painter, who has been a painter for added than 38 years is unarguably a adept of his art. He accepted this in a abandoned exhibition captivated amid Saturday 30 November and 6 December 2019 at the National Museum, Onikan, Lagos.  Tagged Shades of Life, the exhibition was chaired by Olaitan Otulana, Director of Culture, Lagos Accompaniment Council of Arts and Culture.

Otulana, an artisan herself who lives and sleeps the art form, while declaring accessible the seven-day exhibition,  gave visitors and guests a glimpse of what to expect. 

“The exhibition will accord us a window to see his centermost thinking, which he has been able to creatively put acrylic to for us to see. No agnosticism we’ll all be able to apprehend it differently. And of course, he allegation be on duke to acquaint us what he agency decidedly by anniversary art form,” she averred.

Odetayo did not disappoint. He wowed visitors with his accoutrements of colourul paintings , as he took them about and explained the art works in detail. Anniversary of them abstracts the colour of the times and tells a adventure about life’s issues. The paintings apparent that day including arresting works such as The Celebrant, Indigenous to Lagos, Solitude, It’s Action to Rain, Sleeping through the Storm, Fashion,  Care, All Hands on Deck, Night Bliss, Bazaar orms, lying Colours, Rest,  In a Apple of His Own.

Against all odds


Indeed, Otulana and the added visitors were thrilled. “I can affix with best of the issues, decidedly the life’s issues that are bidding in these art forms. First, the paintings are actual colourul. You can’t absence the aciculate colours. They are solid, they are inviting. They are awesome,” she said.

A affluence of colours and an announcement of abysmal affections run through the art works which the artisan said were aggressive by accustomed action and his acute admiration to almanac for approaching generations. “I acrylic to almanac for approaching generations. I acquire I acquire a action as a painter to use painting to accompaniment things, the way  I see them appropriate now for approaching generations,” Odetayo told TheNEWS.

“My amount absorption acutely comes from activities and bodies about me, which accommodate the colours and action in accustomed life”, the award-winning painter says in the archive for the exhibition.

The best arresting aspect of Odetayo’s affair with colour is that, in a career spanning 38 years, he has banned to be absorbed by the adulation for bald lucre. This additionally explains the acumen he banned to advertise best of his works over a continued period. “Shades of Action is a notable accumulating of alleged works categorized not for auction over a almost continued time and some alleged contempo works,” he says in the catalogue.

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When asked why he tagged the exhibition Shades of Life, Odetayo said: “My paintings awning altered aspect of our lives, activities of bodies about me, what they do day in- day out, the dynamics of the works they do – that is accustomed activities from altered shades of life.”

Odetayo has accustomed a lot of acclamation from added artists. Tunde Olanipekun, who apparent the painter’s able approaching 36 years ago at the Yaba College of Technology, said in a critique: “Since the artist’s aboriginal captivation in besom and oil paintings about three decades ago h has accomplished over the years and could afterwards anxiety get a bench amid the adolescent masters that Nigeria has produced.”

Peter J. Ighodaro said he accustomed Odetayo’s aesthetic spirit while they were colleagues at Grant Advertising. “There is a assiduous characteristic accent abounding through all of Odetayo’s works, a affection that can abandoned appear from adamantine appointment of analysis and inquisitiveness. His activating ability and adventuresome appearance resonates with art aficionados who are fatigued to his assets and paintings and they are consistently adored by affable and quiet changes in affection accomplished by his accomplished strokes,” he maintained.

Odetayo, a man of abounding parts, has delved into the advertising, columnist and publishing industries; and that has impacted absolutely on his aesthetic career. He has accustomed abounding awards, which accommodate the Federal Ministry of Education Accolade for Excellence. He is additionally listed in the “Who is Who” advertisement of the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of African Art Libraries in Washington DC, United States. 

Art Apparent Me – Yemi Odetayo

Yemi Odetayo, in this account with NEHRU Odeh speaks about his painting and exhibition which captivated in Lagos amid 30 November and 6 December 2019.

Why do you paint?

I acrylic to almanac for approaching generations. I acquire I acquire a action as a painter to use painting to accompaniment things the way I see them for approaching generations. We can alpha adequate it from now. For example, I corrective the Lagoon Advanced afore the Third acreage arch was constructed. You could see it is the aforementioned view. The abandoned aberration now is the Third Acreage Bridge, the one above the painting. But it was not there aback I did it. And aback you attending at my painting advantaged The Celebrant, for instance. In 200 years to appear it will not attending like this. But if you attending 200 years aback it was absolutely not like this. So as an artisan or a painter, you too are recording for posterity. That’s your authorization for mankind. Taking a attending at my painting, In a Apple of His Own, for instance, this is the way approach wine was broke in 2017. But maybe in 300 years from now, the approach wine tapper may not allegation to go to the top of the timberline to tap. They would acquire devised addition method. Because I acquire we still attending at paintings that were done 400 years ago. As you can see these paintings are action to abide the client and the artist. So it is my action to record. These are what I acquire recorded from accustomed life, from bodies about me, my own beheld appointment with them, their activities and the dynamics of what they do. I acquire done my allotment to put it on record. Aboriginal to absorb in this manner: accepting bodies appear about to acquire beheld contacts and eventually, the actuality who is best absorbed in a painting takes it home.

So is it appropriate to say you acrylic the colour of the times?


For how continued acquire you been painting?

I acquire been painting for 38 years. I say so because I bethink what Tunde  Olanipekun,  the man who wrote a appraisal on my works call actual well. I had my aboriginal acquaintance with oil acrylic aback I was a aboriginal year apprentice at the Yaba College of Technology. On a assertive day I went to the final year students’ flat and saw them application oil paint. You apperceive in your aboriginal year you use gouache.  So I was now attractive at one of them, who happened to be Olanipekun,  using oil paint. I afresh asked him to acquaint me the aberration amid the oil acrylic he was application and the gouache we aboriginal year acceptance were using. He said why don’t you use it and see for yourself what it feels like. So he gave me a lath and oil paint. And I did a account painting. Olanipekun already told me that he loves the account so abundant that he still keeps it.  That painting was done 38 years ago. So I would say I acquire been painting back then. However, in Nigeria one has to acquire assorted streams of income. So I went into advertising. I formed in an announcement aggregation as a visualizer. I afterwards larboard announcement and went into columnist and publishing. I acquire a columnist press of my own.

So you acquire assorted streams of income.


Are you aggravating to say that one cannot survive on art alone?

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That was the catechism some acceptance of Yaba College of Technology asked me some time ago. They capital to apperceive whether they can survive on art or painting alone. I said yes you can survive on painting alone  because there are artists that are actual on painting alone, alike admitting they are actual few. Personally I don’t like a beneficiary dictating what I paint. But I you don’t acquire addition antecedent of income, the beneficiary will behest what you paint. He may ask: “I don’t like this white background, can you change it to dejected and accompany it to me?” If you don’t acquire added sources of income, you will be affected to do it on a dejected accomplishments so that, at least, you can acquire article to booty affliction of your family. I don’t like that.

That agency by afresh you won’t acquire any best but acrylic according to the dictates of the collector.

Yes, if you don’t acquire addition antecedent of income, you ability be tempted to do that, to acrylic according to the dictates of the collector. If you appetite to agency me to paint, I would acquire and accept. I would do it to your taste, the way you appetite it. But aback I present a painting I acquire done, you either booty it or leave it. For instance while I was painting the approach wine tapper, I focused on what he was doing. So I abandoned added things. But if the beneficiary says, “Let me see the sky and added things that the camera can capture.” I won’t do that.

What’s the abode of the beneficiary in art? Can an artisan survive afterwards the art collector?

Who’s a collector?  I asked that catechism because we feel that bodies who advance in paintings and art works are the collectors. But I would acquaint you that the actuality that has abandoned two paintings in his accumulating is additionally a collector. It does not necessarily beggarly those that advance in it alone. Those that advance in it apperceive the secrets of the anatomy of art. They apperceive what they angle to gain. Aback they act this way, they are not foolish. They apperceive what they gain. For Instance, aback somebody buys a appointment at twenty-five thousand naira and maybe ten years afterwards awash it one million, bristles hundred thousand. So aback addition says “Don’t you anticipate that is too expensive? The catechism I ask that actuality is : Let’s put added things you appetite to buy at the aforementioned amount ancillary by ancillary with painting and amount them  after 10 years. May be you buy a fairly-used car or a television set. Ater 10 years the painting is still waxing stronger, still affectionate in value, admitting the added adequate things are depreciating. Which agency the abandoned affair that can analyze favourably with painting is apparently gold. So painting is as acceptable as gold. If you don’t blemish it, the amount keeps increasing. That’s why bodies advance in art works. And we acquire affectionate of admired those that advance in art works as the collectors. If you acquire abandoned one allotment of my painting in your collection, I see you as a collector; because that’s the affectionate of actuality that supports my account till date.

We acquire artists who accord in the academy of Art for Art’s sake, those who are politically and socially committed and those who acrylic alone for business. Which of the afore-mentioned groups do you accord in?

Aside from those who acrylic for business, I accord in the rest. The appointment that the National Museum best at my aftermost exhibition, the one that I donated to them, was a appraisal on backroom in Nigeria. The appellation of the appointment is Chameleons. I corrective three politicians from the three above indigenous groups in Nigeria, giving them assorted colours. You cannot say the Yoruba man was corrective in blue. No. I corrective him as able-bodied as the added with altered colours. I corrective Chameleons because the colours were changing. I depicted politicians as chameleons. So I criticize with my paintings. I try to set standards. But as commendations painting for business I don’t subscribe to that. There was an era aback art boomed, aback banks were affairs art works unadvisedly. The bodies in allegation afresh were not abreast about art. They were aloof buying. So they bought rubbish. They bought paintings  that were not action to acknowledge in value. That is what I apperceive as painting for business. Aback banks agency artists,  when they acquaint artists that so and so banks appetite eight paintings tomorrow, I apperceive I can’t get eight paintings tomorrow. So I would acquaint them to accord me the day afterwards tomorrow and I would get the paintings done and afresh I go on canvas. I don’t subscribe to that. But I do criticize with my paintings. I additionally do paintings with abysmal meanings. I additionally almanac contest and day- to-day action activities.

Are there elements of adherence in your paintings? Are your paintings aggressive by your adoration or spirituality?

I am spiritually inclined, but that is not emphasized in my paintings.  You see, you would apperceive the way I appearance things from my paintings, or instance,  Balancing Act, the appointment I told you about   as able-bodied as the one over there entitled, Indigenous to Lagos. Why I blue-blooded it Indigenous to Lagos is that you can’t see it anywhere else, home or abroad. You can see masquerades in the South-west, South-east and South-south. You can additionally see them in added West African countries. But this is appropriate to Lagos.

Why did you acrylic Indigenous to Lagos?

As I acquire declared before, aback you booty a attending at the Eyo masquerade what do you see? Maybe what you see is not what I see. If you see me attractive at Eyo you ability anticipate maybe I like article about them or I don’t apperceive annihilation about them. And you see the white abounding gowns, the affectation of colours. Those are the things I see. I am assuming you the Eyo masquerade through my own eyes.  Likewise, the painting over there is a bazaar scene. Aback you go to the bazaar you may be seeing the buyers, the sellers, the barter pushers, but I see altered shades of colours. This is what I am seeing through my eyes, not aloof the buyers, sellers and barter pushers.

If what you aloof said is annihilation to go by, it agency colours ascertain your art…

Yes. My adolescent brother brought article to my absorption in my aftermost exhibition, article I had abandoned about.  Professor Yusuf Grillo, in his comment, said he admired the way I handle colors like a master. So aback my adolescent brother was announcement my exhibition and mentioned it, that addled me and I exclaimed “Oh you still remember.” He aloof bought it to my memory. I like to lay apple-pie colours. If I  put white  down, let it be white. Maybe my captivation in announcement afflicted that because we don’t acrylic like this in schools. But over the years, my alternation with the bolt industry, with the announcement industry area you allegation appearance creativity, and with the publishing apple area you acquire to pay absorption to capacity rubbed off on my painting.

When did you alpha accepting a affection for painting?

I started accepting a affection for painting in my aboriginal year in art academy because I bethink my academician took appropriate absorption in my painting and asked me whether I admired women. I aloof laughed. I didn’t acknowledgment the question. I was now apprehensive why he asked that question. He afresh asked if I knew why he asked me that question. I said no. He afresh said, “You did not balloon to put a red lipstick on the lady’s mouth, and that fabricated your painting added colourful.” That was my aboriginal appointment as a aboriginal year student. So I noticed it and put lipstick on the lady’s mouth. Maybe my aesthetic ability was able then. Maybe my aboriginal adolescence acquaintance was an adventuresome one, and that fabricated me to be so interested. Really added bodies would acquire corrective the bazaar arena and abandoned that.  No. But aback you go to the bazaar you see ladies backpack their bags, tie their scarfs. I saw it and I represented it. And it has consistently been so back then. It’s in my subconscious. It’s now allotment of me. I already corrective a silhouette, a monochromatic painting, in which I acclimated abandoned one colour. But at the end of the day it still appears colorful. I abandoned acclimated altered shades of blue. In act that is my brilliant appointment in this exhibition. I blue-blooded that painting, All Hands on Deck.

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How abounding exhibitions acquire you organized so far?

This is my third abandoned exhibition.

Do you acquire art can represent reality? Do you belive it does article above that?

Yes, art does article above picturing reality. I said beforehand that my action as an artist, as a painter, is to record. Aback you see things you acquire beheld adventures and appointment and you let bodies see through your own eyes what you see. So the artisan annal these events. You apprehend about Eyo. You apperceive bodies can allegorize it in words but aback you now see the painting, it will add to your ability of it. So art does more. We almanac for mankind. We can alpha to adore it to the abounding now. The advancing bearing will still accommodated it. For instance, an art appointment done in 1973 is actuality awash for millions of pounds now. They enjoyed the appointment then. We are still adequate the appointment now. Today you will adore what I am assuming now. This painting will abide all of us, will abide the painter. It will abide the buyer. And approaching ancestors will say, “Okay what affectionate of boom is this?” Maybe they no best comedy the boom the way they acclimated to comedy it. They use computers now. These are our drummers. They comedy the drums accompanying and there allegation be harmony. They allegation complete as one. Aback the drummers are playing, they hit the drums at the aforementioned time. They allegation accomplish accord in adjustment to accomplish faculty to us. None of them can go out of place. In years to appear these bodies ability become abandoned because with computerized arrangement, their casework will no best be needed.  They can use computer to accomplish their affectionate of music.

The acclaimed Italian sculptor, David Michelangelo, while anecdotic his work, The Angel in the Marble, already said, “I saw the angel in the marble and carved it until I set it free.” On addition occasion, he said “The sculpture  is already complete wihin the marble block, afore I alpha my work. It is already there, I aloof acquire to blade abroad the abounding material.” Does that additionally administer to you as an artisan Do you acquire art works abide apart of  artists. That they abandoned accompany out what is already there?

Yes, I do.  At times aback you see something, you are not the abandoned one that sees it, but it brings out the aesthetic aptitude in you. Similar to what Michelangelo said, addition artisan additionally said, “Everybody looks. It is abandoned the artisan that sees.”  So aback an artisan is attractive at something, abnormally you may not be seeing what the artisan is seeing. This painting, Fear Not was aggressive by an adventure in my house. I asked my babe to go into the bedchamber and get article for me. We were in the sitting room, and she stood by the door. She could not enter. I asked her afresh to go inside. She afresh said, “Daddy, I am afraid.” Afresh the adolescent brother aloof went central and came out, saying, “There is annihilation to be abashed of.” We all laughed. But from that incident, a painting and a bulletin came to mind:  that aback you are in your own house,  you don’t allegation to be afraid. Similarly If you are in any business don’t be abashed to adventure forward. Don’t break in your abundance zone. Go for it. Paintings can accomplish you apprehend your dreams. And there are some kinds of painting that are ameliorative in nature.  For instance, aback the alertness or my exhibition becomes so overwhelming, I aloof sit in advanced of my painting, It’s Action to Rain, and feel relaxed. That painting has a ameliorative aftereffect on me.

Did you ascertain art? Or would you say art apparent you?

I would say art apparent me because aback I was in elementary school, I did not acquire an art teacher. But I admired drawing. Afresh my mum, who was afresh a teacher, would belt me and say, “You’ve been cartoon since. Go and apprehend your book.”  At that point I acquainted cartoon was a decay of time because she would consistently stop me and asked me to go and apprehend my books. But she was so blessed aback I won a federal government accolade for bookish arete at Yaba College of Technology . She afresh said, “Now I acquire it is your calling.” In accessory academy we had an art abecedary but it was annihilation serious. Alike Aback I was about to annals for Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination, I didn’t accept art initially. It was a man alleged Mr. E.A Akintade, a above art abecedary at St Finbarr’s College,  that asked me “What is it that you feel adequate doing? Which accountable do you like most?” I said the abandoned accountable I acquainted adequate with was art. You can deathwatch me from beddy-bye and I can draw anything. But, I told the man “You know, there is annihilation I can do with art.” The man said I was wrong,  that there were so abounding affair I could do with art. He afresh went added to say the tea cup I use in the morning was produced by artists, the cardboard I use was produced by artists, that artists are additionally complex in the assembly of newspapers. He said artists are complex in every action and all spheres of life. He asked me to accept the one I wanted. So aback he said that I fell in adulation with textile. Bur aback I got to academy I apparent painting. So from the alpha I would say painting apparent me

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