Dickens Otieno’s tapestries use and draws attention to the potential beauty in objects that would otherwise be dismissed as useless and discarded. He shreds aluminium cans and weaves them into tapestries, in a process informed by the weaving of natural materials such as papyrus, raffia, or palm that he observed growing up. His mother was a tailor and he spent many hours in her workshop amongst lesos and kitenges, whose colours and patterns have since influenced his aesthetic. This engagement with fabrics grows from an interest in the way pattern, colour and iconography are used to imbue functional objects with meaning and identity. Otieno draws heavily on his immediate physical surroundings, particularly the urban environment in his native Nairobi to create his compositions. Objects piled high in markets, the constantly shifting skyline, the pockets of nature in the concrete and steel haze of Nairobi – these are the sources of Otieno’s inhttps://circleartagency.com/online-gallery/exhibitions/recent-exhibition/dickens-otieno-mabati-tailor/spiration for his richly hued, increasingly sculptural compositions.
Otieno has participated in numerous group exhibitions locally and internationally. Recent exhibitions include: See Here, Old Neals Auction House, Nottingham, 2018; Africa/Africa, Total Arts Courtyard Gallery, Al Quoz, Dubai, 2018; Young Guns, Circle Art Gallery, Nairobi, 2017; The Third Dimension, Circle Art Gallery, 2016; UNI-FORM MULTI-FORM, Roots Contemporary, Nairobi, 2016; Paint and Metal, National Museum in Nairobi, 2016. His recent residencies include the Tilleard Artist Residency in Lamu, Kenya, and a 6-week fellowship in Italy at the Civitella Ranieri Foundation. His most recent exhibition was Mabati Tailor, a solo exhibition at Circle Art Gallery in 2020 and he has a solo show in October in Los Angeles. Also in October with Circle, he will be part of a group show in London at Cromwell Place and 1-54 Art Fair.