Alatise’s thoughtful exploration

We Came With The Last Rain: Alatise’s thoughtful exploration of societal issues

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The month-long exhibition at the Rele Gallery, London, explores contemporary societal issues, cultural heritage, and personal narratives.

WE Came with The Last Rain, Peju Alatise’s ongoing solo exhibition at Rele Gallery, Dover Street, London, further affirms her abiding interest in issues concerning children.

The show, the first at the gallery’s new London space after Lagos and Los Angeles, opened on February 22 and features a whimsical multimedia body of work. The five series of sculptures and installations offer a realm of fantasy and escapism woven with intricate narratives and elements of magical realism.

Installation of ‘When it rains, I’ll send for you’ by Peju Alatise at Rele Gallery, London

The exhibition, which will close on Saturday, March 23, further explores contemporary societal issues, cultural heritage, and personal narratives.

An advocate for girls’ rights, Alatise pioneered the Child Not Bride campaign against child marriage, a cause she has continued to champion since relocating her studio to the United Kingdom in 2021.

‘We Came with The Last Rain’ explores themes of hope for a brighter future, establishing a platform that allows children to experience their innocence. Presented in the artist’s signature style, the works in the exhibition form part of the Glasgow-based artist’s highly recognisable and consistent practice, encompassing storytelling, sculpture, painting, and architecture yet remaining deeply anchored in her cultural heritage.

By revisiting Yoruba cosmology and folklore in her artworks, the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology Architecture graduate relays Nigeria’s heritage and history to consider its present and future.

In ‘We Came With The Last Rain’, the author of two novels, ‘Orita Meta’ and ‘Silifat’, explores the nuanced storytelling inherent in Yoruba folklore, with the presence of rain as the common thread. ‘We Fell with the Rain’ (Part 1) is crafted from hand-blown glass from steel mirrors and magnifying glass, displayed in droplets and with portraits of children inside.

Combining these elements, Alatise aims to spark broader conversations about the child’s identity, challenge historical narratives, and present an alternative future while celebrating Yoruba culture.

Drawing on her background as an architect, works on display in the exhibition include large wooden window frames that act as portals for the children to escape their realities.

The titles of the works also hold messages that reflect the artist’s visual and poeticstorytelling. ‘When It Rains, I’ll Send for You’ is a sequel to the larger installation ‘Sim andthe Yellow Glass Birds’ previously seen at Frieze Sculpture, 2022. It expands on the storyof a nine-year-old child called Sim, who was rented out for five years as a domesticservant.

Alatise’s work does not focus on the perpetrators or the exploitations but creates a place where children can believe in fantasy worlds and where adults can connect to their inner child.

“Art has the power to untangle the threads of societal complexities, weaving stories that transcend time, provoke thought, and inspire change”, the artist noted, pointing to the power of art.

She added about her partnership with Rele Gallery, founded in 2015 by the enterprising Adenrele Sonariwo, to act as a critical interface between the African and international art worlds.

“I’m thrilled to be showing my work with Rele Gallery; Adenrele has constantly supported my career and has seen me grow from the moment I had my presentation at the Venice Biennale in 2017. I am proud to inaugurate the new space and to showcase its exciting possibilities.”

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