40 Under 40 Africa

Adenrele Sonariwo

28 September 2020

Founding director, Rele Art Gallery and Rele Arts Foundation, Lagos

Adenrele Sonariwo is the founding director of the Rele Art Gallery and Rele Arts Foundation, which seek to promote contemporary art, and harness it to facilitate social change, in Nigeria. The word ‘rele’ is Yoruba for ‘coming home’: Sonariwo set up the gallery, which exhibits established and emerging Nigerian artists, upon returning to her hometown of Lagos in 2010 following stints in the US and the UK.

Among the projects of the Rele Arts Foundation, the gallery’s non-profit initiative, is the annual Young Contemporaries programme, which offers grants, mentorship, residencies and training to a small cohort of emerging artists, and culminates in an exhibition hosted at the Rele Art Gallery. This January, to celebrate the programme’s fifth anniversary, the National Museum in Lagos held an exhibition of work by its alumni; artists included the photographer Logor Oluwamuyiwa, whose depictions of life in Lagos have been shown in London, Brussels and Cape Town since his participation in Young Contemporaries.

Sonariwo was also the lead curator for the first Nigerian pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennale in 2017, and a member of the jury for the 13th edition of the Dak’Art Biennale in 2018. In 2016 she was a winner at the Future Awards for Arts and Culture; since 2019, she has been a consultant on culture and tourism to the governor of Ogun State.

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