Adenrele Sonariwo: Championing New Artistic Voices

Dive into the contemporary art scene in Lagos

Homecoming Voices: Adenrele Sonariwo (2019)Original Source: Homecoming Festival

Meet award-winning art curator and gallerist Adenrele Sonariwo and get to know more about the contemporary art scene in Lagos.

Adenrele Sonariwo (2019)Original Source: Homecoming Festival

Adenrele Sonariwo is a Nigerian art curator and gallerist. She is the founder of Rele Arts Foundation and Rele Art Gallery in Lagos, Nigeria, from where she champions emerging and established contemporary African artists. Adenrele was the lead curator of the first Nigerian pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennale in 2017.

Since 2015, Adenrele Sonariwo has supported thirty emerging artists with training and advice through the initiative The Young Contemporaries program. Rele Art gallery hosts an annual exhibition celebrating their work.

Here Adenrele Sonariwo tells us why Lagos is so exciting.

Untitled (2019) by Ayobola Kekere-EkunOriginal Source: Homecoming Festival

Describe your creative journey and how you got to where you are today?
My creative journey has had its up and down, but I’m truly grateful to be living in times where the work we do is understood and appreciated. Passion, hard work and consistency have gotten me to where I am today.

Artwork at Rele Art Gallery (2019)Original Source: Homecoming Festival

What is the most defining moment in your career?
Curating the first Nigerian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2017.

Tell us why you established Rele Art Gallery?
We started the gallery over four years ago, and it was born out of noticing that there weren’t a lot of young artists within the art space.

Adenrele Sonariwo (2019)Original Source: Homecoming Festival

What is different about your approach to exhibiting artists?
I believe that the young voice is really important, so what that meant was we wanted to identify young artists that were creating with whatever medium it was, and we wanted to be able to give a platform to be able to exhibit and to be able to show their work.

Adenrele Sonariwo (2019)Original Source: Homecoming Festival

How are you continuing to support young artists in this space?
We have a programme called the Young Contemporaries, which identifies and promotes and mentors about six young artists every year. My mission really was to trigger a new appreciation in this space. So getting more people to follow Nigerian artists, to appreciate it, to collect it, and to engage with it.

Untitled (2019) by Ayobola Kekere-EkunOriginal Source: Homecoming Festival

What is the best piece of advice you have received, and what advice would you give to someone starting out in the industry today?
Think long term, nothing good comes easy. Be authentic, the world will adapt.

Lagos from above (2019)Original Source: Homecoming Festival

Describe Lagos in three words?
Dynamic, vibrant and cultural.

Victor Ehikhamenor (2019)Original Source: Homecoming Festival

Who are the most exciting creatives in Lagos at the moment (in fashion, music, film, literature, food and art)?
There are so many at the moment, but I’d have to say, Tems for music, Arie Esiri and Chuko Esiri for film, Ope Adedeji for literature, Chef Micheal Elegbede, KitchenButterFly and Chef Eros for food. The Rele Young Contemporaries artists are worth watching out for, in particular Chidinma Nnoli, Jonathan Chambalin, Ameh Egwuh, Kingsley Ayogu and Judith Daduth.

Lagos from above (2019)Original Source: Homecoming Festival

If you were to show the ‘best of Lagos’ to someone who has never been, what would the day look like?
It’ll be all about the art, culture and food in between. Artists studios and galleries, and sampling various restaurants - upscale and local spots.

Adenrele Sonariwo (2019)Original Source: Homecoming Festival

What can the world learn from Nigeria?
The importance of harnessing and preserving culture. There's a huge part of a nations identity for which the rest of the world sees.

Adenrele Sonariwo (2019)Original Source: Homecoming Festival

If Lagos had its own soundtrack, what tune would it be?
Ye by Burna Boy.

Credits: Story

Founded in 2017, Homecoming is an annual festival of cultural exchange between Africa and the world. Held in Lagos, Nigeria, Homecoming puts a spotlight on African talent – from its up and comers to its biggest stars in Music, Fashion, Art, and Culture. Beyond the annual festival moment, Homecoming focuses its efforts on uniting a global community of musicians, artists, designers and creatives, through collaborations and partnerships between these trailblazers and international brands, institutions and thought leaders.

Find out more via our website, Instagram and YouTube Channel.

Homecoming thanks Adenrele Sonariwo for her involvement in making this exhibit happen!

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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