Rele Gallery Expands to London with New Mayfair Space

Facade of Rele Gallery London. Image. Courtesy of Rele Gallery

Rele Gallery, a prominent art space based in Lagos, Nigeria, is set to make its mark in Europe with the opening of a new outpost in London. The gallery, founded by Adenrele Sonariwo in 2015, has already established a presence in Los Angeles and has garnered significant engagement from collectors in London.

Adenrele Sonariwo
Picture of Adenrele Sonariwo, founder of Rele Gallery

The decision to expand into London was a natural progression for Rele Gallery, according to owner Adenrele Sonariwo. “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,” she explains.

Known for its strategic decisions in choosing gallery locations, Rele Gallery recently moved its Los Angeles outpost to a larger space on N Western Avenue, aligning with the burgeoning gallery district. Similarly, the gallery relocated within Lagos from Onikan to Ikoyi in 2022, emphasizing the importance of finding the right space or location.

The upcoming London space, situated in Mayfair on Dover Street, spans approximately 3,000 sq ft across two floors. Alessandra Olivi, a former director at Gallery 1957, will head the new outpost. London holds a special significance for Sonariwo, given her familial ties to the city and its standing as a hub for the contemporary African art trade.

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Image of Alessandra Olivi

Despite concerns related to Brexit, Sonariwo remains undeterred, emphasizing the unique connection she feels to London over other European cities. “People are saying if you want to do something in Europe, you should go to Paris, but I’ve never felt that connection to it,” she asserts.

Alessandra Olivi, who has been involved in the London art scene for several years, expresses excitement about Rele Gallery’s contribution to the vibrant international art scene in the city. “I’m excited to see what contribution Rele can make to this thriving scene,” she says.

Rele Gallery’s central strategy revolves around presenting artists in markets where they have not been widely exposed. The gallery, currently representing eight artists with talks underway with five others, aims to facilitate a dialogue between artists in Africa and the diaspora. The first exhibition in Mayfair will showcase new works by Peju Alatise, followed by a solo show featuring Marcellina Akpojotor in April.

The gallery’s success in engaging collectors directly through physical spaces is evident in its US outpost, where 50% of direct sales are attributed to Lagos and 50% to Los Angeles. With the expansion into London, Rele Gallery aims to further strengthen its connection with the global art community, fostering conversations between artists across continents and bridging the gap between African artists in the UK and on the continent.

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