Rele Gallery Expands to London, Continuing Its Global Presence

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Lagos-based Rele Gallery is set to broaden its reach across three continents, with the announcement of a new outpost in London scheduled to open next month. Adenrele Sonariwo, the gallery owner who established a presence in Los Angeles in 2021, expressed that the expansion to London was a natural progression. “People always asked me why Los Angeles and not London?” she remarked. “Even then, we were already looking at London… it was just a matter of timing.”

The gallery, which will celebrate its tenth anniversary next year, has focused its expansion strategy on securing optimal spaces and locations, according to Sonariwo. This approach was evident in its recent move from a smaller location on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles to a spacious 3,500 sq ft venue on N Western Avenue, a burgeoning gallery district partly influenced by renowned art dealer David Zwirner. Similar considerations guided Rele Gallery’s relocation in Lagos from Onikan—a cultural hub—to Ikoyi, home to many of the city’s commercial galleries.

Rele Gallery’s choice of Mayfair for its London outpost aligns with the district’s reputation for housing flagship galleries and its increasing appeal to smaller art spaces, which value the high foot traffic despite the soaring rental costs. The new London space, set to open on 22 February on Dover Street, will occupy approximately 3,000 sq ft across two floors and will be led by Alessandra Olivi, a former director at Gallery 1957 in the western part of the capital.

London holds a special significance for Sonariwo, given her familial ties to the city, which is home to a significant Nigerian diaspora. The UK capital also plays a pivotal role in the contemporary African art scene, hosting renowned galleries such as Tiwani Contemporary, Ed Cross, Jack Bell, and Gallery 1957. The 1-54 Contemporary African art fair, a major event in the art calendar, has seen a growing number of global galleries participating in its London edition to tap into the engaged collector base, with Nigerian artists prominently featured in recent years.

Despite uncertainties surrounding Brexit, Sonariwo remains unfazed, stating, “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.” This bold move signifies Rele Gallery’s commitment to expanding its global footprint and engaging with diverse art communities across continents.

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