Yemisi Adedoyin Shyllon is a prince of Ake in Abeokuta, Ogun State of Nigeria. He hails from the Sogbulu and Ogunfayo lineage of the Laarun ruling house of Ake in Egba land.
Education and career
Prince Shyllon studied engineering at the University of Ibadan, law at the University of Lagos, the Nigeria Law School, and earned his MBA from University of Ife.
Joining as sales engineer from university graduation, he became the marketing manager with Tractor and Equipment (a division of UACN) from where he was appointed into the board of Nigerite Limited as the marketing director. He also served as marketing director and legal adviser to the company.
Prince Shyllon is currently Nigeria’s largest private art collector, with over 7,000 artworks of sculptures, paintings and other media, as well as over 55,000 photographic shots of Nigeria’s cultural festivals.
The art works in his collection are dated from as early as the 9th century and as late as the 21st century. They include the works of both earliest and latest Nigerian contemporary artists, such as Aina Onabolu, Akinola Lasekan, Ben Enwonwu, Okaybulu Eke, Nike Davis-Okundaye, Charles Shainumi, Okpu Eze, Clary Nelson Cole, Kolade Osinowo, David Dale, Simon Okeke, Isiaka Osunde, Abayomi Barber, Olu Amoda, El Anatsui, Ben Osawe, Bruce Onobrakpeya, Lara Ige-Jacks, Susanne Wenger, Theresa Akinwale, Uzo Egonu, Jimoh Akolo, Lamidi Fakeye, Uche Okeke, Erhabor Emopkae, Kunle Filani, Tola Wewe, Yusuf Grillo, Adeola Balogun, Olawunmi Banjo and Oresegun Olumide.
His collection also includes arts from other African countries like; Senegal, Cameroon, Togo, Ghana and South Africa. Paintings of artists from other continents such as; Salvador Dalí and Simon Bull are also housed in his collection.
His interest for art and culture, is dated back to his days as an undergraduate in the late 1970s at the University of Ibadan, as he revealed to CNN. Prince Shyllon told Vanguard newspaper in a news report that art collection is his obsession. In another interview with Conceptual Art magazine, where he spoke about his life as an art collector, he said: “It goes from interest to passion and passion to obsession until you are buying artwork at every auction and you have to build new storage spaces just to house your art collection.”
Prince Yemisi Shyllon is ranked among the World’s top 100 art collectors and the largest collector in Africa in 2016. He has made presentations about African art and culture at art fairs in different parts of the world.
OYASAF is a non-profit organisation established in 2007 to promote the appreciation and study of Nigerian arts and artists, both in Nigeria and internationally.
The art foundation regularly organizes; art exhibitions and public lectures on art and culture. OYASAF sponsors an annual art entrepreneurship workshop with the University of Lagos for artists and non-artists in Nigeria.
In June 2016, “The Yemisi Shyllon Professorial Chair” for fine art and design sponsored a one-week exhibition of the over 2000-year-old Chinese sculptures and photo diary of the Qin dynasty, in Lagos, Nigeria.
The foundation annually sponsors scholars, curators and art historians from outside Nigeria to visit and study Prince Yemisi Shyllon’s collection, interact with Nigerian artists and promote researches into Nigerian culture through this.
So far, the art foundation has sponsored seventeen (17) fellows from the USA, Kenya, South Africa, Ghana, Germany, Switzerland and Austria. Previous beneficiaries of the fellowship programme are from the following institutions: University of Chicago (USA), University of Wisconsin (USA), Stanford University (USA), University of Vienna (Austria), Rhodes University (South Africa), Museum of Cape Town (South Africa), Columbia University (USA).
OYASAF has donated some life size sculptural monuments to public places and institutions in Nigeria, notably among which, are the eighteen (18) life size sculptural works of art, at the Freedom Park in Lagos and monuments at the University of Lagos and University of Ibadan.
The foundation has two books publications to its credit. A book published in 2008 titled ‘Yoruba Traditional Art: The Collection of Omooba Yemisi Adedoyin Shyllon Art Foundation (OYASAF)’. It is a catalogue with information on the history of the Yoruba; origin, evolution, and elements of Yoruba art; major traditional Yoruban artists; and map of the Yoruba kingdom. The book was co-authored by Prince Yemisi Shyllon and Onuoha Louisa, and edited by Dr. Pogoson Ohioma.
OYASAF is the sponsor of the on-line journal of African art, The OYASAF Journal of Art (TOJA), for intellectual discussion of African art.
Prince Yemisi Adedoyin Shyllon is a member of Nigerian Bar Association and a fellow of professional bodies like; National Institute of Marketing of Nigeria, Institute of Directors Nigeria, Nigerian Institute of Management, Chartered Institute of Stock Brokers, Nigerian Society of Engineers, Chartered Institute of Marketing (United Kingdom).
Awards and honours
Prince Shyllon holds an honorary Doctor of Letters degree from the University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria.
He has received numerous awards, notable among which are:
- Art Expo award for Collector of the year by Art Gallery Owners Association of Nigeria.
- Peace and Dialogue Award 2014 by UFUK Dialogue Foundation.
He is married to Chief (Mrs.) Funmilayo Shyllon.