A painting, Charging Horses by Tayo Olayode
After nearly a decade of establishing his signature in extensive application of lines that generate scintillating figures, Tayo Olayode takes a leap into what could be his new periods. From Asia, specifically, Tibetan culture, Olayode gets inspiration that merges his African native roots with an Oriental technique to produce a new kind of pointillism.
Apart from Olayode’s Tibetan-inspired kind of pop art from pointillism, rendered in portraiture, his other new form include abstractions made from asphalt on paper, which he calls Flow Series. In addition to his regular slim figures of lines, they all make a new body of work titled Permutations, currently showing till March 4, 2017 at Wheatbaker Hotel, Ikoyi, Lagos. Sponsored by the Wheatbaker and Veuve Clicquot, Permutations stresses the growing acceptability of alternative art space, particularly in Lagos hospitality environment. The exhibition is dedicated to the memory of late Chief Sammy Olagbaju, a prominent collector and Olayode’s main patron.
The artist’s presence on the Nigerian art scene has been so pronounced in the last 10 years such that having his debut solo was expected before now. Tracking Olayode, one recalls that he emerged in 2007, as one of the best two, among competitors in a Terra Kulture-Ford Foundation organised art project. He and hyper realism painter, Titus Agbara got residency to Ghanaian master, Ablade Glover’s studio as part of the project’s top prize
Nearly 10 years after, Olayode is still being sort after. Some of his pronounced presence on the African art landscape include leading quite a number of group exhibitions, within and outside Nigeria; in the forefront of a new generation of contemporary group, Iponri Studios, which emerged as fresh face of Lagos art about seven years ago; and in 2014 got residency at one of the world’s biggest art spaces, Vermont Studio, U.S – courtesy of Arthouse Foundation, Lagos – where he stumbled on a Tibetan technique.
Slim figures laced with lines, swarming through the diverse social fabrics of life from an artist’s perspective has dominated Olayode’s signature to the point of clear identity. Giving a new direction to his palette is Permutation, a theme he discloses, was generated from self-probity. “It’s about trying different things in different ways,” Olayode tells select preview guests at The Wheatbaker.
And as the pieces of works are being unveiled, most of them turn out to be total deviation from Olayode’s signature. For example, a section of the body of work revisits the fact that portraiture is basic to every artist’s training, but in practice, the choice of themes and material as well as technique defines an artist from the crowd. For Olayode, iconic names such as Mahatma Gandhi, Bob Marley, Che Guevara, Barack Obama are individuals worth celebrating, particularly when an artist has a new technique to add and flaunt in a world of expanding visual vocabulary.
Perhaps it is too early to distill a visual vocabulary from the new technique by Olayode. But a cross-cultural texture of Tibetan process of burning and perforating rice paper with incense sticks, mixed with modern African glass beads in painstaking methods comes as a new technique for Olayode in highlighting features for portraitures. Basically a pointillism tradition, but Olayode’s imploring of the combined African and Tibetan techniques generates a fresh texture into the world of pop art.
Still on the stretch of adding new texture to his identity, abstraction comes into the fray, interestingly with some odd medium and materials. Asphalt on paper! How does that work, particularly for a wall piece, in painting form? The asphalt, before application on the paper, he discloses, “is heated to a high temperature such that it becomes very light.” Against white background, the black molten, he says, is then allowed to move naturally on the paper, hence Flow series.
Back to the artist’s identity of intensive application of lines for figures, a surreal, Charging Horses highlights Olayode’s magical process of the canvas. He boasts of breaking tradition by painting in reverse. And the effect, really, is an optical illusion of dissolving images as the lines mark what could be a contemporary texture in surrealism.
The curator, Sandra Mbanefo Obiago, sees a “360 degrees” form in Olayode’s Permutations. She argues that it’s rare to come “across an artist who has mastered so many different styles, without loosing his own unique creative voice.”