Rele Gallery steps up with a bigger and world-class space in Lagos.

Ikoyi hosts Rele Gallery‘s new Lagos space. One of Nigeria’s best known contemporary art centres, the move will help Rele set new bars for contemporary African arts. From May 1, the gallery hosts visitors in a new physical space after seven years on Military Street, Onikan Lagos.

Talking about moving to the new building at 32D Thompson Avenue in Ikoyi, Rele’s founder Adenrele Sonariwo mentioned that it was difficult to move because they had always been at Onikan and relocating was like leaving a suitable habitat. Moreover, it means creating awareness for visitors who are used to the old location, but looking at the new gallery, how it stood tall and reflected the kind of class expected of contemporary art galleries, the movement was worth it. 

“…we were at Onikan for seven years and we love Onikan, which for us is the cultural capital of Lagos,” Adenrele said. “We enjoyed being there; it is just that we wanted something a lot bigger and reflective of the direction we are going.”

Here, visitors will see multiple exhibitions and art programs in a world-class environment. 

The new space kicks off with a group exhibition titled “Subtle Textures”.

“We are showing six artists with between five to nine works per artist, and the works are all drawings done in different media from smoke, charcoal, pencil, graphite and others,” said curator, Adeoluwa Oluwajoba.

Subtle Textures features artworks by Osi Audu, Sedireng Mothibatsela, Annick Kamgang, Kelani Abass, Temitayo Ogunbiyi, and Papa Omotayo.

How it started

Adenrele stepped into the Nigerian art scene when she returned to Nigeria in 2010. She had just returned from the UK and wanted to explore Nigerian arts. Her interest: art reflecting what she cared about and stories she could relate to. Sadly, the artworks she saw were not reflecting as many stories as music and films do for Nigerian youth. So she decided to do something about it. 

Adenrele started hosting an art salon at home. This involved conversing with cultural producers that later morphed into event-based collaboration, featuring artworks at affordable prices. Her focus was on the younger audience. Five years later, Rele gallery was born, a product of passion, grit, and years of pop-ups. However, it was just the beginning.