Yisa Akinbolaji was born in Ondo, Nigeria and currently lives and works in Winnipeg, Canada. For more than three decades, he has enjoyed extensive art practice, working in a variety of media: (oil, acrylic, printmaking, metal sculpture and installation) and exhibiting in solo and group art exhibitions. His Yoruba-African root experience and Western education dominate the eclecticism and diversity of his technique. His solo exhibitions include: My Language Space, My Black-Etched Pot and Dance Out of Injustice. Yisa's major solo exhibitions have been held in Canada, the United States and Nigeria. In Canada, the public galleries in which his works have been exhibited are: Joseph D. Carrier Gallery (group), Winnipeg Art Gallery (group), Franco-Manitoban Cultural Centre (solo) and Mennonite Heritage Centre Gallery (group and solo).
Yisa is a past president of the Manitoba Society of Artists (2001-2003). He was appointed to the board of the Manitoba Arts Council in 2010 serving until 2018. He was recognized at the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba, Canada on the 11th of April 2018 for his artistic contributions and volunteering service. On November 20, 2018, Yisa was recognized as chief guest by the Conflict and Resilience Research Insititute, Canada during the occasion of "Participatory Peace Painting Icebreaker." Yisa has been a Juror of Artist in Community Residency and the Community Connection for the Manitoba Arts Council in 2010, an advisory member of Canadian Broadcasting Corporation “CBC ARTSPOTS” 2007, and a guest speaker at the Canadian Association of Planning Students Annual Conference at the University of Manitoba (2007).
Yisa has been educated in the United States (MFA in Printmaking, Painting and Art History, University of North Dakota), Canada (Diploma in Graphic Design, Red River College) and Nigeria (Higher National Diploma- Painting, Yaba College of Technology).
He explores and uncover the possibilities of creative expression, combining various art expertise to express a full range of experiences. As the first child of thirteen children, his creative imagination first began to develop from the Yoruba folktales and allegories which he heard from elders. As he became a professional artist, his art concept started to evolve from extended sources and his imagination. At the age of six, he developed the ability to improvise by using any pigment available to express himself. Yisa used his mother's eyebrow pencils and charcoal from her firewood. His engagement with art at that age minimized his fear, which most children encountered during the period of Biafran-Nigerian civil war of 1967-1970. His passion for method and materials has resulted in the discovery of flexible gum, Remoglue, which was developed from his personal experimentation.
A good foundation for his professional career began with his first art exhibition at the National Museum Onikan, Lagos in 1984, which is documented on page 81 of Nigerian Artists: A Who's Who & Bibliography a publication of the Smithsonian Institution Libraries, Washington DC in 1993. Between 1988 and 1997, he taught Fine Art at the Lagos State Model College, Badore. In 1988 and 1989, he was adjunct Drawing and Painting Instructor at Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education, Ijanikin, with Prof. Deinde Agoro as Head of Department.
Yisa's exhibitions have been reviewed and featured in many newspapers, art magazines, radios and televisions. In November 2011, Yisa was featured on the cover of Art Business News, New York for his recognizable technique.
Yisa's work is in the collections of the province of Manitoba, the University of North Dakota, Great-West Life, Cargill Limited, and the private collections of many valued collectors, including several international diplomats around the world.