One of Nigeria’s experimental artists, Tayo Olayode, will open the Wheatbaker’s 2017 Art Program with “Permutations”, an exhibition showcasing 38 impressive mixed media artworks.
Olayode, who graduated from Ahmadu Bello University with a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Art in 2000, presents diverse works using a range of complex techniques and styles, setting him apart as an artist who spans the worlds of abstract, realist and surrealist expression.
The exhibition opens at the Wheatbaker, Ikoyi, Lagos, on January 23.
One of the most exciting elements in the show is an 8-by-10 foot long installation created out of colorful synthetic ropes and copper wire which he calls Endless Development; a powerful reminder that society is strongest when we allow diverse philosophies, ethnicities and persuasions to be interwoven into a rich tapestry of creative expression.
Olayode presents his latest experimental works with stirring portraits of global influencers like Mahatma Gandhi, Bob Marley, Che Guevara and Barack Obama in his new Leadership Series. He created these works using an ancient Tibetan technique of burning and perforating rice paper with incense sticks, which he learned from a Buddhist monk while attending an international artist residency in 2014.
Olayode, an award winning artist, said “Permutations” had been in the making for years.
“My paintings are a reflection of my fascination with materials, methods, and experimentation,” says Olayode, 46.
“I do not seek to be identified by only one style. The art market may try to define me by a particular style and I’m fine with that. But I don’t want to be boxed in. It is easy to be labeled when people write about your work.
“Artists get carried away with not wanting to produce works in styles they are not known for. This is limiting. I believe the era of ‘my style’ is over. There is versatility in art. Artists should be free to embrace, experiment, and explore whatever materials and methods they are drawn to.”
Olayode’s breadth of expression can be attributed to early mentorship by working with leading artists such as the late Fred Archibong, Professor Abayomi Barber at the University of Lagos, and later with Abiodun Olaku, at the Universal Studios of Art Collective. Olayode also benefited from a three-month residency with celebrated African artist, Professor Ablade Glover in Ghana, who inspired his world-view.
“My self-expression is the consequence of working with masters from different schools of thought,” Olayode says.
“All these influences find expression in my work. My art comes to life through different media, grouped around specific themes and meanings. As I research and explore the medium and style, other deeper expressions are unveiled, which often gives birth to other forms of work.”
“I don’t create works to elicit a predetermined response from my viewers. It all depends on the viewer’s state of mind. That is when true beauty is captured.”
Olayode’s artistic practice has won him multiple awards including the Fred Archibong Scholarship in 1995, the Association of Fine Arts Students (AFAS) Leadership Award in 1999, the Terra Kultur Ford Foundation Art Award for Best Young Artist in Nigeria in 2006, and the Arthouse Foundation Scholarship & Vermont Studio Cultural Exchange Competition in 2014.
“Permutations showcases Tayo Olayode’s unusual and refreshing multi-dimensional art in 360 degrees” says Sandra Mbanefo-Obiago, the exhibition’s curator and director of SMO Contemporary Art.
“We very rarely come across an artist who has mastered so many different styles, without loosing his own unique creative voice.”
Mrs. Mbanefo-Obiago says the exhibition is dedicated to the memory of late Chief Sammy Olagbaju, one of Nigeria’s most influential collectors and art patrons, who encouraged and mentored Olayode since his student days.
The exhibition is sponsored by the Wheatbaker and Veuve Clicquot, and runs until March 4, 2017.