One of Nigeria’s better-known contemporary art spaces, Rele Gallery has announced that it is set to expand into Europe with a new space in the city of London opening next month.
Why it matters? This means the contemporary art centre will now have an abode in Africa(Lagos), North America(Los Angeles), and Europe(London)—spreading its artistic tentacles across three continents.
Why expansion? The need to find a suitable location for its projects. Rele Gallery, which was founded by Adenrele Sonariwo in Lagos in 2015 and opened an outpost in Los Angeles in 2021, already has a strong engagement with collectors in London. “People always asked me why Los Angeles and not London?” “Even then, we were already looking at London… it was just a matter of timing,” founder, Adenrele Sonariwo said.
Why London? The capital city of the United Kingdom is thought to have the largest diasporic Nigerian population in the world and is also significant for the contemporary African art trade, with many contemporary African art galleries established there.
Where and when is Rele set to open in London? Rele opens its new space which spans approximately 3,000 sq ft over two floors, on 22 February on the popular Dover Street in Mayfair, an area marked by its concentration of flagship galleries. It is not surprising as the district has also been welcoming an increasing number of smaller galleries in recent times.
The big picture: Rele, which currently represents eight artists, and is in talks with five others, says the central strategy is to “present artists in a market they have never really been exposed to at such a large scale.” She looks forward to hosting more shows where artists living on the continent and the diaspora are in conversation with each other.
Shows and Exhibitions: Rele plans its first show in London as an exhibition of new works by its “unofficially represented” artist, Peju Alatise followed by a solo show by Rele Gallery’s very own artist, Marcellina Akpojotor in April.
Bridging the gap: Many of Rele’s artists are based in Africa but Sonariwo hopes this new location will be significant as she says it is a good opportunity to work with artists in London to bridge the gap. Since 2023, the gallery has been in conversation with “artists based in the UK who are looking to connect back to the [African] continent.”
What to know about Rele Gallery: Rele Gallery will celebrate its tenth anniversary next year. The gallery became the first African gallery to open in Los Angeles in 2021. Featured artists: Rele has featured several Nigerian-based international artists including Victor Ehikhamenor and Kelechi Amadi-Obi, as well as Neec Nonso, who was featured as a member of Rele’s Young Contemporary in 2022.