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Yusuf Grillo

Born, 1934 in Lagos, Nigeria

A piece titled Exhibitions at the Commonwealth Institute appeared in the Winter 1973 issue of African Arts magazine (Volume VI, Number 2). The piece was written by South African-born artist Denis Bowen. The text opened, “During the course of any twelve months or so the program of exhibitions organized by the Commonwealth Art Gallery in London invariably provides some opporunities to study the work of contemporary African artists. The 1972 program included exhibitions of paintings by Yusuf Grillo of Nigeria and of wood carvings by Mwariko Omari of Tanzania.” This was in effect a review of these two artists’ work.

Of Gillo, Bowen wrote, “Grillo showed some thirty oil paintings, the earliest of 1965, and the selection was equally balanced between earlier and more recent works. The exhibition was therefore an opportunity for comparisons. A number of the early works are very subdued in tone and so limited in color that the figures are no more than ghost-like. Scumbling, thick paint dragged over drying areas, is resorted to and conveys the lighter areas and changes in plane. In these works shapes and modeling are simplified; areas are defined by straight lines implying articulation from the edges of the canvas.”

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Article relating to a gallery, 1973