2021 Rele Arts Foundation Young Contemporaries

The Rele Arts Foundation, founded in 2016, is an initiative that identifies, mentors, and promotes a new generation of talent by equipping them with tools and resources to advance their artistic development.

Young Contemporaries 2021 exhibition aims to draw attention to the exciting and critical work being done by a younger, emerging generation of contemporary Nigerian artists.

Here’s a fragment of the works of the seven presenting artists.

1. ‘To Dream Like A Loser’ – Michael Igwe

To Dream Like A Loser Michael Igwe - african arts
Wishes. Acrylic on Canvas 45 x 50 inches 2020

Characterized by loosely detailed figures and muted backgrounds done in subtle grey, tan colours, Micheal Igwe’s presented series ‘To Dream Like A Loser’ explores the futility of dreams in a largely dysfunctional society where the notion of grand dreams and ideas is a luxury afforded only to the privileged few.

2. ‘Who is in the Garden?’ – IyunOla Sanyaolu

Who is in the Garden IyunOla Sanyaolu african arts
Who is in the garden IV. Oil on Canvas 36 x 36 inches 2020

IyunOla Sanyaolu’s series ‘Who is in the Garden?’ reference the popular children’s game of the same name. The call-and-response nature of the game is mirrored in the series as a form of dialogue between two entities, the main figure in the painting as well as what the artist refers to as ‘the elemental’, represented in animal form — a metaphor for the human and their guardian.

3. ‘Odd Numbers’ – Sabrina Coleman-Pinheiro

Odd Numbers Sabrina Coleman Pinheiro
13 in Prussian. Acrylic on Canvas 55 x 40 inches 2020

Taking the idea of the ‘solitary’ as a starting point, Sabrina Coleman-Pinheiro’s presented series ‘Odd Numbers’ explores the loneliness of living with mental illness. Characterized by loosely defined humanoid figures floating against cloud-like, spectral space, her work reflects on anxiety disorder and its attendant effects of self-alienation and solitariness.

4. ‘Conversations and Relationships’ – Victor Olaoye

Conversations and Relationships Victor Olaoye african arts rele gallery
Friendship and Reconciliation. Mixed media 48 x 48 inches 2020

Victor Olaoye’s presented series ‘Conversations and Relationships’ considers forms of relationship in contemporary society as well as the ways in which bodies exist in constant relation to each other. Drawing from and experimenting with dyeing techniques practiced widely in his hometown Abeokuta, the artist presents dynamic elaborately clothed forms in varying positions of intimacy and communality exploring the familial, romantic, and platonic.

5. ‘Existing II’ – Rachel Seidu

Existing II Rachel Seidu rele art gallery lagos
Untitled 1. Print on archival paper 24 x 36 inches 2020

Rachel Seidu’s series ‘Existing II’ questions social constructs of gender and sexuality beyond
homogeneous representations of being. Exploring and subverting cultural misconceptions of the male body and masculinity, her emotive and often layered portraits explore a fragility of self.

6. ‘It Could Have Been Sunshine and Rainbows’ – David Otaru

It Could Have Been Sunshine and Rainbows David Otaru
8pm. Charcoal, Acrylic and gold leaf on Canvas 48 x 60 inches 2020

Drawing from childhood memories and experiences, David Otaru’s series ‘It Could Have Been Sunshine and Rainbows’ marks out important times in the day in telling stories of how existing forms of social class influence defining childhood moments and activities.

7. ‘Cleanse with Salt Water’ – Aghogho Otega

Cleanse with Salt Water Aghogho Otega
Untitled 2. Print on archival paper 24 x 36 inches 2020

Presenting photographs and a video installation, Aghogho Otega’s series ‘Cleanse with Salt Water’ draws elements from his personal religious practice of Igbe as well as encounters with religious rites from the Yoruba people of Western Nigeria — particularly in their worship of the Olokun and Osun deities.

The exhibition opened on Sunday, January 10, 2021, at Rele Gallery, Lagos and would be running until February 28, 2021. It is accessible only by appointment and you can reserve a time slot here.




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