"I like watercolors. For now, I am not sure I will be in a position to express my inner feelings better using any other materials or any other medium."

photograph by Amy Staples

Tayo Adenaike

Tayo Adenaike, who is of Yoruba parentage, was born in 1954 in Idanre, in southwestern Nigeria. He studied art at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, where he received his bachelor's degree in 1979 and his master's of fine arts degree three years later. Adenaike views himself as belonging to the third generation of Nsukka painters, a successor to Uche Okeke and Chike Aniakor in the first, and to his teacher Obiora Udechukwu in the second. Since graduating he has largely worked in advertising, and he currently serves as artistic director of Dawn Functions, Ltd., a major Nigerian firm in Enugu. Due to his full-time employment, Adenaike paints at night, on weekends, and during his annual trips to the United States.

Although he occasionally works in oil and acrylics, Adenaike's forte is watercolor on paper. A gifted watercolorist, Adenaike deftly utilizes uli styles and akika, traditional wall uli background swirls. In recent years he has incorporated nsibidi motifs into his richly colored compositions and sometimes combines both design forms in one work.

His complex designs are based on personal reflections, political commentaries, scenes from everyday life, portraits, and animal forms. In comparison to Uche Okeke's art, which tends to draw from the past, Adenaike's work is topical and at times deeply personal, with subconscious elements. Human faces, distorted or in agony, often appear in his work. Inspired by his Yoruba childhood and life experience, Adenaike creates works that explore Igbo and Nsukka styles with uncommon insight.

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