Dickens Otieno

Available Works at Circle Art Gallery

Dickens Otieno (Kenyan, b. 1979)
Lives and works in Nairobi

Dickens Otieno’s tapestries use and draw attention to the potential beauty in objects that would otherwise be dismissed as useless, and discarded. Aluminium cans are shredded and woven into sculptural fabrics in a process informed by the weaving of natural materials such as papyrus, raffia or palm that he observed growing up. Otieno’s 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 textile grows from an interest in the way pattern, colour and iconography are used to imbue functional objects with meaning and identity. Otieno draws 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, and the pockets of nature within the concrete and steel haze of the city, have become sources of inspiration for his richly hued, increasingly sculptural forms.

Otieno has had solo exhibitions in Kenya and the USA: Mtaani, Steve Turner, Los Angeles, 2021 and Mabati Tailor, Circle Art Gallery, 2020. He has participated in numerous group exhibitions locally and internationally including: East African Encounters, Cromwell Place, London, 2021; 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 of Nairobi, 2016. Otieno has exhibited at international art fairs including Art Dubai, Eye of the Collector, London, Circle Art Gallery, 2023 and Untitled Art Fair, Miami, Steve Turner Gallery, 2022. Residencies include the Tilleard Artist Residency in Lamu and a fellowship in Italy at the Civitella Ranieri Foundation.