Nigerian-born artist and architect Peju Alatise on her back-to-back Venice Biennales, Yoruba influences, and giving back to Africa
We recently sat down with Nigerian-born artist and architect Peju Alatise at her new Glasgow studio to find out more about her back-to-back Venice Biennales, how she juxtaposes being a contemporary architect and fine artist, and how Yoruba culture has helped her work stand out in today’s global art world.
“You need a little bit of luck, as we know arduous work isn’t everything. Do what you do because you love it, and because you can’t live without it.”
– Peju Alatise
Alatise is an interdisciplinary artist, architect, and author of two novels. She started her professional career as an architect while running a private art studio. These days, she is a leading voice in contemporary art on the African continent. Her practice is relentlessly experimental and labor-intensive. She produces works across a variety of mediums, techniques, and materials, including but not limited to paintings, film, installations, sculptures. Her work is also pointedly political, often asking damning questions, and provoking reflections about the times, the state of affairs at home and abroad. The artist’s work has, in the past, explored exploitative labor practices in Nigeria, child rights with a focus on young girls, state-sanctioned violence against citizens, migration and the policies that ensure that many die at sea, seeking a better life. Alatise now produces through the lens of spirituality and Yoruba cosmology, leaning into ancient storytelling traditions and crafting alternative social imageries.
When asked about some of her favorite artists, Alatise hesitated for a moment, and eventually offered the answer that it changes from season to season. Right now, she is looking at Mexican sculptor Javier Marín and continues to be impressed Chiharu Shiota whose work she first discovered at the Venice Biennale in 2015. Marin’s … Click here to read more