As the international interest for diverse and multicultural art continues to grow, so has the appeal for African art. It’s no wonder that Rele Art Gallery, a renowned Nigerian art gallery with two locations in Lagos already, is opening a new space in Los Angeles. Following positive reception at their booth at the 2020 LA Art Show, on the 1st of February, Rele Gallery will open the doors to its new space on the swanky Melrose Avenue in Beverly Grove, as the first contemporary gallery from Africa to place roots in the city.
Fortunately, the profit motive can coexist with good art as they have announced the debut showcase, “Orita Meta (Crossroads)”, which will feature works by three impressive contemporary Nigerian artists: Marcellina Akpojotor, Tonia Nneji, and Chidinma Nnoli. All three women will display works in line with the “Orita Meta” theme inspired by a book and painting of the same name by fellow Nigerian artist Peju Alatise.
Loosely translated from Yoruba to mean, “a junction where three roads meet,” Marcellina Akpojotor, Tonia Nneji, and Chidinma Nnoli have all proven to be more than capable of bringing these themes to life. They’ve each developed reputations for exploring themes such as the dichotomy of purity and sexualisation imposed on women through family, religion, and the state, seen in Chidinma Nnoli’s “A Poetry of Discarded Feelings” series. Tonia Nneji has also shown a knack for draping her female figures in brightly coloured and patterned fabrics to create images of female communion and solidarity, while Akpojotor incorporates pieces of Ankara fabric to build up her intricately layered scenes. Exploring the universal concepts of gender, family, and empowerment from their unique Nigerian perspective is certainly something to look forward to.
View this post on Instagram
Speaking with Hyperallergic, the founder of Rele Art Gallery, Adenrele Sonariwo explained why she really loves L.A and chose to open a new space there.
“It’s such a strong, vibrant community of individuals that care deeply about the arts, especially African Art, which I’ve experienced first-hand”
Although Rele Gallery will be the first gallery from Africa to open in Los Angeles, Sonariwo confirmed that contemporary African art “is already well established as a genre in the world, including the United States.” In fact, according to her, a large share of the gallery’s patrons came from the US long before they announced the Los Angeles gallery space.
Adenrele Sonariwo was a co-curator of the Nigerian Pavilion for the 57th Venice Biennial in 2017, the first time Nigeria participated in the highly regarded international exhibition and her reputation continues to grow with the coming “Orita Meta” showcase, which she described as her way of presenting a good collection of some of the most talented contemporary African artists that are currently creating on the continent. She explained in the article from Hyperallergic,
“In particular I wanted to present women creating from a different perspective than the US audience might be familiar with.”
Rele Gallery has also shown invested interest in emerging artists, establishing a Young Contemporaries initiative to mentor a handful of artists every year since 2016. “Orita Meta” artists, Marcellina Akpojotor and Tonia Nneji were also participants of the program and going forward, you can expect the gallery to feature contemporary African art, with a special focus on Nigerian women, though Sonariwo says they aren’t against collaborating with artists from other locations as well.
Featured Image Credits: Instagram/relegallery
You are meeting Debola at a strange time in his life. He wandered into a dream and lost his way back. Tweet at him @debola_abimbolu