Peju 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 practise is relentlessly experimental and labour-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 of, and provoking reflections about the times, the state of affairs at home and abroad. Alatise’s work has, in the past, explored exploitative labour 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 produces through the lens of spirituality, Yoruba cosmology, leaning into ancient storytelling traditions and crafting alternative social imageries.
In 2020, Alatise was selected as an exhibiting artist for the Venice Architecture Biennale by curator, Hashim Sarkis. In 2018, Alatise founded the Alter-Native Artists Initiative, an incubatory artist collective that offers training programs, residencies to young, emerging artists. In 2017, Alatise was selected as one of the exhibiting artists at Nigeria’s debut pavilion at the Venice Art Biennial, where she showed, “Flying Girls”, an installation of eight life-size sculptures, of little girls amidst a flurry of birds and leaves, with wings on their backs, dreaming of a brighter future, exhibited with a sound installation of little girls playing. Described as haunting and beautiful, the sculpture “bears witness to the maltreatment, discrimination, and atrocities that have become commonplace in a society where very little attention is given to the development of the girl child”. In the same year, Alatise was announced as the winner of the prestigious FNB Art Prize and her installation, O is the New Cross, a commentary on episodes of “jungle justice” in Nigeria, was the central solo exhibition of the FNB Johannesburg Art Fair that year. Alatise is a fellow at the National Museum of African Art, part of the Smithsonian Institution. Her work has been collected by the Smithsonian Institute. Her debut novel Orita Meta, chronicling the interwoven path of three women, was nominated for the ANA/Flora Nwapa Prize for Women’s Writing in 2006.
Alatise is based in Lagos, Nigeria.