Rele Presents: AYOOLA

Sunday the 11th of June 2017 marked the opening of the first solo show of one Nigeria’s finest artists, Ayoola Gbolahan in over two decades. This was greeted ceremoniously as it was his first solo exhibition at home, in Nigeria, where he has worked and lived.

The exhibition featured large paintings executed under three main themes. In his self-portraits, portraiture of other persons, he assumes the role of a teacher only now as an artist painting his thoughts on being. The portraits included in the Human Anthropology series reflect one’s need for self-examination and understanding.

The Abstract Figurations laid in bottle figures, heads and lurid colours stands objectively as a nudge to further indulgence in one’s thought process, carving a familiar path to the often ignored place of emotions and thoughts. As with the general style of the works included in this exhibition, his abstract landscape series portray a visual product of the mind having sighted spaces and environments that held emotional weight to be strongly imprinted on his artistic consciousness.

The exhibition garnered generous presence by fellow established artists, art collectors and lovers. Ayoola, present at the day of the opening, admitted to his desire for his viewers to really understand what he is about and what his practice seeks to do than just strokes and colours. Of most importance to the artist, is the need to have conversations around the work and the process. He expects people to not only be around to be spoken to but also engage in meaningful conversations.

AYOOLA will be open at Rele Gallery till the 9th of July.

See pictures from the opening below:

 

Ayoola Omogbolahan 

Ayoola Omogbolahan 

L-R: Gbenga Offo, Bob-Nosa Uwagboe, Suraj Adekola, Ayoola Omogbolahan 

L-R: Gbenga Offo, Bob-Nosa Uwagboe, Suraj Adekola, Ayoola Omogbolahan 

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Visual Artist, Promise Onali 

Visual Artist, Promise Onali 

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Artist in Conversation 

Artist in Conversation 

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Qudus Onikeku and Ayoola Omogbolahan 

Qudus Onikeku and Ayoola Omogbolahan 

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Artist in Conversation 

Artist in Conversation 

L-R: Azu Nwabogu, Ayoola Omogbolahan, Alimi Adewale 

L-R: Azu Nwabogu, Ayoola Omogbolahan, Alimi Adewale 

One Sighed Bottle Head: Work from the Abstract Figurations series 

One Sighed Bottle Head: Work from the Abstract Figurations series 

Landscape Black: Work from the Abstract Landscape series 

Landscape Black: Work from the Abstract Landscape series 

Duality: Work from the Human Anthropology series 

Duality: Work from the Human Anthropology series 

The Couple of Blue and Green: Work from the Human Anthropology series 

The Couple of Blue and Green: Work from the Human Anthropology series 

REFLECTING FAMILIAL RELATIONSHIPS IN 'AND NOW WE HAVE ENTERED BROKEN EARTH'.

On Sunday, 7th May, Rele visitors witnessed the debut solo exhibition of the photo-based artist, Eloghosa Osunde in ‘ And Now We Have Entered Broken Earth.’ In Eloghosa’s photo-story exhibition, the artist coalesced multi-layered themes and conversations with its pivot on familial relationships. These matters are bared on the canvass, visual representations reflecting different degrees of intimacies in familial representations-how far or close the subjects in the photographs decide to stay together for the one who is watching. They reflect the nuanced bonds of love and how differently they are expressed.

In its movement along relationships, another story is brought to light. In free verse lines, Eloghosa writes, “Once upon a time, there was our family tree. The rot began at the root. Its roots spread and broke the earth.” All of these drawing our attention to the inheritance of brokenness and settling of materials from the ones before us. Even before we knew, we had been born fractured for “How do you resist your own blood?”

As a photograph is said to reveal a lot, for one who is keen to see, we find varying degrees to which loneliness- as in aloneness- has seeped and settled into a man. The artist draws significance to many other things that are passed to one another as internal inheritances. These deposits, be it addiction or mental illness do not stay just temporarily- as a visitor would, but journey as far as the blood which is the tangible material that is passed down to the offspring.

The exhibition, also entitled ‘Anwhebe’ is an exploration of this intergenerational complexity and the power of the people who raised us; how this power extends to shaping who and how we are. She interrogates the truth of this, “Raise your hand if you raised yourself”, she justifies the realness “Everything is borrowed”, as we were not made exactly bare.

The eerie manipulation of the photograph situates a mood, a tone that rings the idea that familial histories have the ability to haunt us in the present. The photographs carry a disconcerting tone that reflects the disturbing manifestation of familial reflection in our own selves. It is an evocation about the dreariness of the matter but also a nudge for redemption as she lodges an affirmation-“Watch. We are going to remake ourselves. We ran out of our broken bodies and back into our spirits. Back to God.”

Anwhebe is open till the 4th of June 2017. It will be our delight to have you join in this experience. See photos from the opening in the slideshow below.

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Answering the Call for Change in Her Story Exhibition

Rele Gallery, on Sunday, opened doors to an exciting evening of multi-dimensional stories. Her Story Exhibition brought together five female artists answering to the pledge for continuous change. It serves as an expression of diverse stories to create awareness and also propagate conversations. Each artist brought to canvas a unique expression of their stories through the eyes of a woman. Going further than just story-telling, the exhibition sought for a celebration of feminine virtues; the quiet strength in survival and sheer joy from the victory of conquering.

Her story exhibition lent voices from Oluchi Chuks Zọm, Queen Nwaneri, Buki M. Animashaun, Ayobola Kekere-Ekun and Haneefah Adam. We were also delighted to present a special feature by Ngozi Schommers.

On Acrylic and canvas, Queen Nwaneri brought to light a statement so bold. One made for the girl child and her right to being treated as a human. She makes a case for such humanity, in her works I can be; I can think; I am a woman. It is her belief that every girl-child should be given equal opportunities in regards to marriage, education, career and even her right to decisions. She interacts with the viewers, requests for them to make it a duty to not just converse but work towards a change they deserve.

Moving through another line of making a statement is Ayobola Kekere-Ekun with the Cultural Dysmorphia series that has boldly represented her navigation around the patriarchal spaces in Nigeria. Her women are sheathed, almost invisible, not to be seen or heard from. She speaks of the “eyes-wide shut” attitude most individuals have towards a problem so glaring. In her series, we also find the expectations placed on the shoulder of a woman, to not speak up because she is required to listen, and listen only.

Black Hearted series also stands boldly in its space. Buki M. Animashaun paints her way to liberation from labels, from her story as a black woman written just in technicality. To be judged of as one thing is pain and her expression of this shows in the lurid colours observed on canvas. Haneefah Adam makes her debut in this exhibition with a female subject and a journey through time. In the beginning, we find her encrusted, searching and still in a process of discovery. From there on is her blooming and freedom; she is observed unravelling from boundaries and giving way for the woman beneath.

In her ethereal photographs, we see several intriguing elements come to play. The colours radiant of feminine energy, Oluchi Chuks Zọm photographed an exciting visual representation of the long historical connection between nature and femininity. They both have something in common which is beauty; beauty so admirable and true.

In this fusion, several multiplicities have been expressed and encountered. It was an evening lighted up with the energy of the visitors, drinks from Cointreau, and appreciation from art-lovers.

Her Story Exhibition is open till the 24th of March, 2017. It will be our pleasure to have you come and share in these stories.

See photos from the opening in Slide-show below.

Rele Opens 'Young Contemporaries 2017'

We opened the year with the sophomore edition of the Young Contemporaries. With grants awarded by the Rele Arts Foundation, the 5 talented and promising artists selected created a body of work for the Young Contemporaries 2017 exhibition. Working in diverse forms of expression, the artists: Marcelina Akpojotor, Rewa Umuna, Sejiro Avoseh, Ezekiel Osifeso, and Oladimeji Coker produced work that boldly contributed to conversations around human identity, traversing racial and cultural boundaries, femininity, and the duality of human nature.

In his mixed media series, Sejiro, makes a statement on the complexity of the perceived human identity, and questions external perceptions of the appearance. One’s appearance should not be the only unit that makes up one’s identity. His automobile-related face collage asks: Should we treat and judge humans as things? As you would judge a car for its looks. In the brilliant miniature series, he requests of the observer to look beyond what we see, to understand the many other things that make up the identity on a more visceral level.

Oladimeji, the only photographer of the group, deftly tells a story of duality. “ In the beginning, we were created to subdue and preserve the earth,” his monochrome photographs tell a tale of the warring selves culled from the theories of a Jewish philosopher. The selves, he believes, had been created in man since inception. As we go along the photographic timeline we see these selves-- the Subduer and the Preserver express their contrasting approach to life.

Rewa takes to celebrating the feminine identity with vibrant acrylic colours. She puts to paper her experiences as an urban nomad,  her movement through societal and racial boundaries in a triptych display. ‘Travellers,’ in its intentional use of bright colours seeks to evoke and invite you to a shared experience of her emotion and energy.

Another approach to the feminine celebration is seen in the work of the mixed media artist, Marcelina, who has created beautiful textile portraits of toddlers which boldly represents the joys of motherhood. Her installation ‘Roots and Wings’ is as eye-catching as her Ankara pieced portraits on canvas.

Ezekiel has represented how man exists in relation to his environment. Majorly working in nifty brush strokes, he captures the life of everyday people, some of which we might even know.

We opened the exhibition on Sunday, January 15th, 2017 to a very warm and amazing reception from art lovers.

The young contemporaries 2017 exhibition will run till the 12th of February 2017. We hope you can stop by to experience it before it closes

See pictures from the opening.

 

 

Ezekiel Osifeso

Ezekiel Osifeso

Marcelina Akpojotor

Marcelina Akpojotor

Travellers Series, Rewa Umuna

Travellers Series, Rewa Umuna

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Rele launches 'The Adorned Series'

Over the weekend, we opened our doors to celebrate the launch of the first solo exhibition in Nigeria for photographer -  Asiko. The exhibition titled ‘The Adorned Series’ is a collection of 44 pieces that captures women in powerful poses, using portraiture and mixed media to bring his vision to life.

On walking into the gallery, you are hit with ‘Ori Okan’, which is one of the mixed media works. In this particular piece, the model is in a contemplative pose and is beautifully adorned in intricate jewelry. It is a commentary on how various cultures adorn themselves and Asiko uses this as a means to explore female sensuality and strength.  In this piece and with the rest, Asiko uses his lens to inspire the feeling of awe. 

This exhibition is one that has to be experienced for oneself.

The opening was attended by art buyers and lovers alike, other artists who respect Asiko’s creative expression, and even some of the models photographed for the series! The guests milled about, taking it all in whilst enjoying refreshments. Asiko himself was in attendance and had conversations with attendees about the series and the inspiration behind the work.

There will be an Artist Talk with Asiko on Thursday, November 4th, 2016 while the exhibition runs till November 20th, 2016

For now, enjoy some photos from the opening reception. 

Asiko 

Asiko 

Zainab Balogun

Zainab Balogun

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We End 2015 With The Highly Anticipated Exhibition ‘The Tamba Series’

We recently closed the year with what we believe is our strongest showing (yet), featuring internationally acclaimed print master, Tayo Quaye, in an intimate event, sponsored by globally reputed French wine brand, Fat Bastard, which made its entry into Nigeria a few weeks ago.

The exhibition was Quaye’s grand return to oil / acrylic work and the first time ever in his decades-long career that he would be showing predominantly works from the medium. 

The body of work on display, titled ‘The Tamba Series’ – a work of progress since 1981 – is a risqué, layered sequence of works that records in bold brushstrokes and in cascading colour the –private- time a woman spends before bath, after bath and in the act of Tamba.

The artist captures the contemplative time a woman spends after bath in preparation to present herself to the world; before bath - the wait time or hesitation before revealing her body to another; Tamba - cleaning between her legs after an act with ‘another’ that deemed it necessary.

The series is to be seen, to be better understood. Guests at the event lingered for some time before the works enjoying glasses of Fat Bastard’s full-bodied white and red wines. They would later engage the artist in lengthy discussions about the inspiration behind the series.

 The exhibition is a holiday gift to collectors everywhere, an opportunity to add works of value that may not come around again for years. A gift that keeps on giving, it will run through the month of December.

It is no doubt the best avenue to end one’s year artistically, on a high, the biggest showcase this holiday season.

Enjoy pictures from the private opening.  

Rele Shows Off ‘Everyday People'’ in new exhibition.

The series "Everyday People" is an attempt to chronicle social change. It is a turn of lens of the beautifully ordinary characters that dot the Lagos landscape, on the everyday icons of our sprawling metropolis. It captures these particular citizens that are the heart and soul of the city, at their most raw, going about their seemingly uncluttered lives yet with industry, contemplation, atimes resignation and ultimately with resilience. The series was shot over a year period in popular, throbbing urban areas - Jakande, Agric Market, Ojuelegba, Jankara Market and Iddo. 

These series was shot by breakout photographer, Dr Jumoke Oduwole. The exhibition opened on Sunday October 18th, 2015.  

Oh Art Hamptons!

This time 2 weeks ago, I had landed in New York after a full day of travelling, rested for a little bit and was on schedule to meet up with my partners in crime for what was my very first art fair!! (Whoop! Whoop!)

Participating in the 8th Annual Art Hamptons was a great opportunity to showcase some of the super talented Artists that Nigeria has to a different community and what a great experience it was!

The process of attending had started sometime in March, brainstorming with my co-participator Ayo Adeyinka of Tafeta London. Ayo has 10 years of experience in the art business so I relied on him to steer the ship! I learnt a whole lot in the process, the creative process (deciding what artist to show and how to display the works), the administrative process (paper work seemed endless!) and the funding process (ah, another story for another day!)

I have lived and worked in the U.S, and although I had visited New York a few times, I had never been to the Hamptons. So part of the excitement for me was getting to experience a new town for the first time.  We got to the Hamptons on a Wednesday evening to set up. Photographer extraordinaire Jide Alakija was kind enough to drive us down, exhibiting Artist Victor Ehikhamenor also came along on the trip, having just finished a residency in Italy and visiting family in the U.S.

I get excited at everything, so pardon me. I got excited when I saw our booth, when I saw our crate inside the booth, when I saw our names written beside the booth, the catalog, our page in the catalog; the entire thing was exciting!

Setting up would be a breeze, or so we thought. We didn’t have some supplies, so rushed to the hardware store to get materials. I found out a few tidbits on the Hamptons during the process, most stores close really early! Who closes at 5pm?

Anyway, as we unwrapped the works, we realized that some of the works had shifted around due to the long distance shipping. Bummer! We had to manually try and fix them. Time was running out and the security folks at the Art Hamptons fair ground don’t play! They kicked us out at 9pm.

The next day, it turned out the “manual labor” we had been through the previous night didn’t help much. With the help of the fair organizers, we were able to get a solution going.

All Set!

Opening night was great and the other days flew by so quickly! Press and attendees loved our booth, so many important people stopped by and we were quite glad at the feedback we were getting. Our booth was the talk of the fair, coming from far away Lagos; other galleries even sent people to see our works. We were super proud of that! It is one thing for attendees to love our booth, but for other participating galleries to recommend us? Speechless!

Our booth made ArtNet News (One of my favourite art websites!) and the gallery got a notable mention from Happening.

One minor downside was how unbelievably cold the tent was. The AC on the fair grounds was on full blast!!! Several attendees came by wondering why it was so cold. One said to me “Is it so cold because the art works need to be kept under a certain temperature?” (Ah no o! even if, are the art works ice block?), another one said “I hear its so cold because it gives off a “rich” feel” (Ah lets act rich then!)

All in all, I was so happy that our hard work and also Rele’s vision of exposing a larger, global audience for Nigerian art was tested to a positive outcome.

We can't wait to share our next adventure with you!

Thank you for reading,

Adenrele Sonariwo xxx

Talk: Limitations to Exploring Photography off the Streets

To round off the 'Lagos: Hustle and Hope' exhibition, we had a panel session titled 'Limitations to Exploring Photography Off the Street', in a bid to bring various people in the industry together to discuss some of the hurdles faced in putting together what was a challenging yet rewarding exhibition.

On the panel were online curator and photographer Yagazie Emezi, award-winning visual artist Uche Okpa-Iroha and conceptual photographer Abraham Oghobase. Curator of the exhibition - Adebola Rayo, moderated the talk. The combination resulted in an interesting evening of ideas from different perspectives, including those of audience members like foremost artist Olu Ajayi.

                               Abraham Oghobase, Adebola Rayo, Yagazie, Uche Okpa-Iroha

One shocking discovery was that most works that would have helped in presenting a better rounded reflection of Lagos were commissioned and could not be shown outside their primary purpose. Another was that the photographers that go beyond the surface are few and far in-between or foreigners who come looking for the extra-ordinary in ordinary lives.

 

At the panel discussion, Abraham Oghobase posited that the most important thing young photographers must embrace is education - absorbing all they can about the art form and then thinking outside the box to conceptualize and present works that will challenge the norm.

Yagazie was emphatic about creating platforms for young photographers to be able to show their work, and she shed light into the peculiar problems that could arise for individual photographers whether as a result of gender or race -- leading to a mini-session where the women photographers in the audience shared their experiences.

                                                          Abraham Oghobase, Yagazie Emezi

                                                          Abraham Oghobase, Yagazie Emezi

In discussing, the limitations to this, Uche Okpa-Iroha harped on the importance of negotiating one's space as an artist. He advised a young artist in the audience not to be in a hurry when approaching a new environment, adding that it sometimes takes him weeks or months to ingratiate himself into a place so as to be able to work there.

                                                               Uche Okpa-Iroha

                                                               Uche Okpa-Iroha

In all, one came away with a better sense of how to navigate the art form to create thought-provoking works that would evoke emotions in all who come in contact with them.

My Street Economics Opens!

The “My Street Economics” exhibition by Zainabu Jallo in commemoration of the International Women’s Day opened on March 8th, 2015.

The set of photography works displayed captures every day Nigerian life of women, up and about with healthy doses of determinism to make daily income from trading, crushing stones, and cooking in the open with no form of shelter.

Rele Gallery Launch - Feb 1st, 2015

The art landscape in Nigeria welcomed a glittering new addition to the scene. rele opened its doors  to the public on Sunday the 1st of February, 2015. Located in Onikan, Lagos, the cultural capital city, rele is at once surrounded by history, art and culture, adding handsomely to the cultural, artistic riches of this former colonial district that houses the likes of Nigeria’s foremost musical institution, The MUSON Centre and the National Museum. 

Industry stakeholders of the arts, art collectors, and art lovers attended the rele opening!