Dickens Otieno’s practice is driven by the search for meanings in objects and materials that are discarded and no longer useful. Working with left over aluminium cans gathered from local kiosks, bars, and marketplaces, he weaves large sculptural fabrics – comparing the cans to natural materials that have for generations been used for weaving like reeds and palm leaves or fabrics woven into clothing. His sculptural tapestries engage intimately with material, labour and the processes of making, imbuing value, and calling attention to the potential for beauty present in objects that would otherwise be dismissed and forgotten – an interest that grows from a childhood spend observing his mother, a tailor, working with different fabrics and materials. His recent compositions approximate the urban landscape of Nairobi. To varying extents, he reduces, abstracts, and also deconstructs the lines and shapes visible in and around the city, producing compositions whose final forms reference, indirectly, the physical nature of his immediate surroundings, while also speaking to the conditions of their making.
Circle Art Gallery, Nairobi, Kenya