Tayo Adenaike

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Tayo Adenaike is a Nigerian artist and advertising executive known for using watercolors as a favorite medium in his paintings many of which depict human faces and figures in creating delicate, dramatic and sometimes provocative images. He attended the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and was a student of Uche Okeke, Chike Aniakor and Obiora Udechukwu who was later his mentor.

He is sometimes considered to be among the artists in the third generation of the Nsukka School. The first generation being Uche Okeke, Chike Aniakor and others and the second generation having Obiora Udechukwu, Bons Nwabiani.

Early life

Adenaike was born in Ijebu-Mushin Ogun State to a Catholic Christian family. He went to primary school in the city of Ibadan and later attended the Government College, Warri.


In 1974, Adenaike earned a scholarship to study at the University of Nigeria, it was while at the university that he started learning about Igbo culture and uli motifs which he later used as a reference in many of his later arts works. He started using uli style in 1976 and later on began showing some of his works in solo and group exhibitions in Nigeria and abroad. He completed his B.A. in 1979 and focused on Osogbo artist as his thesis, he later earned a master degree following a one year stint at the Institute of Management and Technology, Enugu.

While studying at Nsukka, he used oils as a medium but towards the end of 1978, he started experimenting with watercolors which later became his preferred medium, though he used oils in 1986 and acrylics in in 1994 and 1995. By 1982, on completing his masters, he had learned the wide ranging role of uli motifs in contemporary Nsukka artist and mastered the principles of uli through visually studying many of this contemporary artist resident at Nsukka at the time. Many of his early art works were sometimes similar to the linearity of his mentor, Obiora Udechukwu and like Udechukwu he too later made use of nsibidi pictograms. He was also influenced by Vincent Van Gogh, Andrew Wyeth and Ibrahim el Salahi.


Between 1980 and 1982 while studying as a post-graduate student of UNN, Adenaike had three major solo exhibitions, two at the Goethe Institute, Lagos, 'Watercolo fears' and 'Distorted Souls' and one at the African center, London, he also partook in numerous groups exhibitions.

As an artist, he has delved into painting with social and political themes in mind and also taking inspiration from a personal point of view. He also draws upon his Yoruba background mixed with the uli style to create a distinctive painting style.

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