Abuse of Innocence: Sejiro Avoseh

Rele Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of new works by Sejiro Avoseh begun during a residency period at Angola AIR (Artist in Residency) in January 2020. Expanding on his formal artistic language of combining collaging techniques with painterly forms, Avoseh creates fantastical, hybrid figures in his signature ‘automobile-related faces’ as well as drawing from popular culture. His series titled ‘Abuse of Innocence’ visually dialogues with notions of power, citizenship, violence and innocence. Characterised by bold, raw colours and frenzied mark-making, the works offer a unique view on existing power dynamics and its role in perpetuating systemic and random violence against a designated other — an othering brought about by institutional injustice as well as class and gender struggles. Hovering between abstraction and figuration, the works in this series take as a point of departure, the chaotic relationship between the Nigerian citizens and their elected officials and civil servants, meditating on the concept of the ‘misuse of power’ and the way it serves as a vehicle for micro and macro aggressions.


In ‘Abuse of Innocence’, the artist explores issues from oppression and extortion by the constituted authority like politicians and the police institution as well as from members of the civil service and how this affects the indigent, to issues on gender-based violence. A particularly striking element in Avoseh’s new works is his referencing of popular characters from the late 1990s children show, Teletubbies. Contrasted against and sometimes partaking in bits of gratuitous violent acts, the artist plays out subversive acts that violently disrupt innocence. This ludic provocation, in the deliberate pairing of violent acts and characters from a kid’s show, spurs melancholic contemplation on the disruption and erasure of innocence. In referencing the unstable and volatile nature of contemporary society as well as the effects of violence, Avoseh depicts his forms on a torn canvas which was then mended leaving visible scars running across the picture plane. In these works, Avoseh serves as a voice for members of a shared community, drawing from individual and collective experiences in probing power structures in contemporary society