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From Lagos to Los Angeles to London - Discovering Rele Gallery and the 'Joy of More Worlds'

In a quiet, secluded corner of Mayfair sits a gallery that made its way from Lagos to Los Angeles and now resides in the heart of London. Rele Gallery’s glass front doors ushers you into a world that celebrates the beauty of African artistic talent. 

When I first stepped into the gallery, it felt like the loud, bustling city outside those walls simply fell away. There was something reverent about the minimalism of the space. It wasn’t about the building, it was all about the art. With its’ white walls and natural lighting, the art was an immediate focus. After shaking off my initial awe, I was drawn into the exhibition. Marcellina Akpojotor’s ‘Joy of More Worlds’, which ran from the 13th of April to the 8th of June, was a vibrant homage to the sanctity of family, maternity and female empowerment.

DIATACHEKO'S PARLOUR, 2023-2024: A large Nigerian family, sat on a couch in a living room or parlour

Through depictions of intimate and joyful moments, Akpojotor’s artwork recreated multiple scenes reminiscent of so many Nigerian households. I was transported back to a childhood of hall parties until the late hours of the night, playing with cousins and wearing matching ankara with my sister. Ankara was actually an integral part of this exhibition. Each piece was brought to life by thoughtfully placed strips of fabric and swirls of paint, creating a unique connection to Nigerian culture. From the intricacies of braided hairstyles to the cheeky, playful grins of childhood, Akpojotor transported me to a simpler time in life.

GOOD TIMES, 2023: Three young girls facing each other at a table with food and drinks

As a British born Nigerian, there will always be a part of me that is yearning for a personal connection with my heritage. Finding these bonds through artwork and this exhibition specifically has provided a sense of catharsis that is truly special. Even more so considering the gallery’s quiet, unassuming position in the middle of Mayfair. As far as African art spaces and galleries go in London, Rele Gallery is a hidden gem that I can’t wait to see more from soon. The gallery’s group exhibition, 'Stretching the Light' featuring artworks by Shannon Bono, Tami Soji-Akinyemi and many more, is definitely something to look forward to this summer!


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