For Tayo Olayode, setting up a solo exhibition had become a jinx. He’d sold several works right in the comfort of his studio, having enjoyed the patronage of one of Nigeria’s most influential collectors and art patrons, Chief Sammy Olagbaju. But the large-hearted curator died.
Olayode missed Olagbaju in more ways than one. He supported his dream. To this end, Olayode won many awards including the Arthouse Foundation Scholarship & Vermont Studio Cultural Exchange Competition in 2014. While he was studying, he enjoyed the opportunity of experimenting with different media. However, since 2000 when he had graduated from the Ahmadu Bello University, the thought of doing a solo show seemed to have eluded him. He was his own critic; raising the bar for his works every time. Still he had participated in group exhibitions in Ghana, Kenya, USA, Britain, Dubai and Canada.
Finally, on January 18, his fresh collection of 38 mixed media works was viewed privately by select culture journalists at the Wheatbaker Hotel, Ikoyi. The show is Wheatbaker’s first for the year and it is titled, “Permutations’’.
The on-going show which is curated by Sandra Mbanefo Obiago is dedicated to the memory of late Chief Olagbaju.
“Permutations showcases Tayo Olayode’s unusual and refreshing multi-dimensional art in 360 degrees. We very rarely come across an artist who has mastered so many different styles, without loosing his own unique creative voice,’’ Obiago remarked.
The question is: What makes Olayode’s works special? Most likely, it is the profound message embedded in each piece which has been arranged in series according to the underlying theme. In his series titled, Leadership, he made stirring portraits of global influencers such as Mahatma Gandhi, Bob Marley, Che Guevara and Barack Obama. They are not every day painting. He selected an ancient Tibetian technique of burning and perforating rice paper with incense sticks. He learnt this method from a Buddhist monk while at an international artist residency program in 2014. Olayode tapped from his African roots of using glass beads to make highlights and combined this with the far eastern artform.
What is arguably the most intriguing of his series is titled Flow. Lots of contemporary artists claim to explore this technique which allows the colours to move freely on the canvass. Olayode demonstrated a mastery of this technique with his near-perfect control of the asphalt and acrylic drippings to create abstract pieces that line the walls of the luxury hotel. Although he admitted that the showcased pieces are a few of the lot that he made using this rather tricky technique, he must have been understating his masterly skills for his water colour pieces silently argue otherwise.
He also explores the women issue which has recently been a subject of global concern in a miniature piece that celebrates the independent and career-oriented woman who, on a daily basis, surmounts challenges that threaten her happiness and existence.
Looking back at his professional life, Olayode was emotional, fighting back tears as he recalled how he never had to speak for his works before they were sold. As a founding member of the Iponri Art Studios, and the President of Watercolour League, he is not new to the art scene.
Largely influenced by leading artists such as Professors Abayomi Barber, Jerry Buahri, Abiodun Olaku and Ablade Glover, his self-expression mixes with these influences making his style absolutely dynamic.
“As I research explore the medium and style, other depper expressions are unveiled, which often gives birth to other forms of work. Sometimes, I utilize mundane domestic objects for colorful installations. I gain aesthetic joy from my works and hope that my audience appreciates and receives value too,’’ Olayode remarked.
True to his words, on display were large exhibits made of coffee on rice paper. It was almost unbelievable because the portraits had hints of whiteness which were deliberately created by the artist for aesthetic reasons.
The exhibition is sponsored by the Wheatbaker and Veuve Clicquot and runs till March 4.