Rele Gallery is pleased to present the second installment of contemporary Nigerian artist Ameh Egwuh’s two-part meditation on death and the afterlife. Where the first part, held in Los Angeles dialogued with mortality and transcendence, the works in Fantasies of the Other Side offer imaginative considerations on the afterlife. Here, Egwuh creates surreal landscapes and new realms, from lush greens to sandy dunes, presenting vivid scenes of the otherworldly filled with metaphorical imagery and expressionless figures. The works presented offer a glimpse into the artist’s engagement with world-making through the juxtaposition of diverse elements. His paintings feature illogical, surreal scenes lending a dreamlike yet decidedly materialist feel to his works. The folds of the fabrics, the contours of the hills and the vivid blueness of water all serve to create an environment that is at once familiar yet distant.
In Fantasies of the Other Side, Egwuh imagines new worlds rooted in varied beliefs of the afterlife across several cultures. Exploring ideas of reincarnation, ancestral veneration and nothingness, the works fictionalise the unknown, creating a hybrid space of memory and continuity. With this exhibition, he moves the conversation beyond initial considerations on mortality, into transcendence and subsequent immortality. His exploration of the afterlife imagines it not as a singular place or narrative but as a site of remembrance. A place that continues the story, even after death.
Egwuh’s use of colour and spatial composition situates his characters in serene, fantasy spaces echoing his belief in the afterlife as ‘a happy space’. The figures are shown in relaxed poses lost in the immediacy of the moment and while draped in outfits ranging from the contemporary to the traditional, they present hardly any clue to their identity, yet remain undeniably present. The artist’s reference of family photographs also grounds the work in the personal. An act of remembrance and veneration.