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  Peju Alatise is a Nigerian artist who uses her work to explore social issues, gender roles, and the beauty of her heritage. Born in Lagos in 1975, Alatise’s artistic journey began at a young age, inspired by another Nigerian artist, David Dale. Despite her father’s initial disapproval, Alatise pursued her passion, first studying architecture and then diving into the world of art.
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From Architect to Multi-Media Artist

Alatise’s background in architecture is evident in her approach to art. She sees and thinks logically, evident in her detailed and impactful pieces.  She started with painting but has blossomed into a multi-media artist, using everything from beads and cloth to resin and traditional materials to create powerful statements.

Art with a Purpose

Alatise isn’t afraid to tackle tough topics.  Much of her artwork focuses on the challenges faced by women in Nigeria, particularly the issues of gender inequality and child labour.  She uses her art as a form of creative activism, raising awareness and sparking conversations about these important issues.

Breaking the Mold

Peju Alatise’s work is a unique blend of Afro-feminist viewpoints and traditional Yoruba mythology.  She challenges the traditional definition of modern African art, offering a fresh perspective that celebrates women and their experiences.  Her work has earned her a place among other distinguished Nigerian female artists.
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Beyond Painting: Exploring Different Forms

While painting was her starting point, Alatise’s artistic expression extends far beyond a canvas.  Her love for literature is reflected in her stunning piece “Flying Girls,” exhibited at the prestigious Venice Biennale.  This work, featuring eight life-size winged girls, symbolizes the dreams of a young housemaid yearning for freedom.  Alatise even combined her artistic talents with writing in her 2013 exhibition “Wrapture,” where sculptures and short stories were presented together to create a captivating visual narrative.

A Multifaceted Artist

Peju Alatise is not just a sculptor and storyteller; she’s also a published author with two novels to her name.  She is a true advocate for the arts, serving as a fellow at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African Art and founding the ANAI Foundation, which provides training programs for aspiring artists in Nigeria.

Recognition and Accomplishments

Alatise’s talent has not gone unnoticed.  She has received numerous awards, including the prestigious FNB Art Prize, and her work has been featured in exhibitions around the world, from the Venice Biennale to art fairs in Morocco and the United States.
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Final Thoughts

Peju Alatise is passionate about supporting other artists and creating artist residencies in Morocco and Turkey to foster collaboration and growth.  Her ultimate goal, as she stated in an interview with Aljazeera, is to create art that “informs or inspires you,” art that speaks to the human experience and leaves a lasting impression.  With her dedication and powerful voice, Peju Alatise is sure to continue making waves in the world of contemporary African art.
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This article was first published on 13th May 2024


Chidiogo Shalom Akaelu holds a degree in English and Literary Studies, from the University of Nigeria. She is a freelance writer, editor and founder of Loana Press, a budding online publishing outlet.

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