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Tayo Olayode: The Multifaceted Artist

Tayo Olayode, photo by Adeyinka Akingbade, 2017

FUNKE OSAE-BROWN

As I walked into The Wheatbaker hotel, Ikoyi on a sunny Tuesday morning, the colourful installation art mounted on the wall remained noticeable. I never knew it was one of the pieces I was billed to see at the media meeting to announce the exhibition of Tayo Olayode titled ‘Permutations’.  The work called ‘Endless Development’, is made of discarded ropes in hues of blue and red.

Just by the walls that lead to the lobby are hanging some interesting pieces. On the left side, is a piece from the ‘Coffee Series’ a reminder of Olayode’s classic works. As with his earlier works, Olayode uses lines, forms and motifs. What makes this series unique is his use of burnt coffee to achieve varying colour tones. And his colourful work, ‘Charging Horses’ is also featured at this exhibition. It has been a collector’s delight in the course of Olayode’s career. A walk through the exhibition shows the depth and diversity of Olayode’s works.

“Permutations have to do with my state of mind,” Olayode says of his exhibition title. “Exhibiting different techniques, working several masterpieces in show require a title like this. It is like trying my hands on different techniques while maintaining my uniqueness and style.”

‘Permutations’ is Olayode’s first solo exhibition after many years of practising and participating in group exhibitions in Ghana, Kenya, USA, Britain, Dubai, and Canada. The works are testaments of his prowess as an experimental artist.

Also interesting are his pieces showcasing portraitures of global influencers like Mahatma Gandhi, Bob Marley, Che Guevara and immediate past United State of America president, Barack Obama in his new Leadership Series. Olayode uses an ancient Tibetan technique of burning and perforating rice paper with incense sticks, in creating these works. He learnt the technique from a Buddhist monk while attending an international artist residency in 2014.

However, he takes this technique further by combining the Far Eastern artform with the African tradition of using glass beads to create highlights, presenting an intriguing body of textured works on paper and canvas.

“The dots are done one after the other,” he explains. “It is hypnotic and it is done on a very expensive paper – rice paper. What I did with the technique is to introduce our African beads into it. It is a merger of two cultures. That’s one of the major benefits of my residency in the U.S at Belmont Studio.”

His ‘Flow Series’ is an exceptional and brilliant collection of works where he uses asphalt and acrylic drippings to create colourful abstract works. The collection, like his intricate perforated art, shows the depth of Olayode’s thoughts and creations.

He says most of works were influenced by leading artists like the late Fred Archibong, Professor Abayomi Barber at the University of Lagos, and later with Abiodun Olaku, at the Universal Studios of Art Collective. Also, a three month residency with celebrated African artist, Professor Ablade Glover in Ghana, also inspired his perspective.

Olayode dedicates the exhibition to late art collector, Samuel Olagbaju who he says his instrumental to his career growth. “He had all my works right from my university days,” he explains holding back tears from his red eyes. “I was very close to him. He was the chairman at my wedding. He bought all my works and sustained me for a very long time. He was supportive of my work.”

To this end, ‘Permutations’ is an interesting exhibition to see to engage with the diversity and depth of Olayode’s works.  Sponsored by the Wheatbaker and Veuve Clicquot, the exhibition runs until March 4, 2017.

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