Africa First funded Dickens Otieno's first solo exhibition Mabati Tailor at Circle Art Gallery in Nairobi. The collection was able to choose this masterpiece Black with Spikes, 2020, which breaks new ground for the artist. Congratulations to Otieno and the gallery for what seems to be a sold-out show.
"Known for his sculptural tapestries of woven aluminium and three-dimensional objects in the same medium, Dickens Otieno’s engagement with his chosen medium reflects his interest in the way colour, texture, pattern and iconography imbue ordinary objects with meaning and identity.
Growing up, Dickens watched his mother, a tailor, working, and those childhood encounters with fabric and pattern greatly informed his practice of weaving and use of material. Other sources of inspiration for his vibrant sculptural compositions include various modes of dress and uniform, his immediate physical surroundings, particularly the urban environment of Nairobi with objects piled high in markets, the constantly shifting skyline, and pockets of nature in the ever-growing concrete and steel maze of Nairobi.
Dickens has been practising for 15 years, and this show brings together 19 new works, his large woven wall hangings and free-standing garment sculptures. Some of the works in this show are much larger in scale than before, and display, not only Dickens’s technical prowess but also show the expanding material and visual vocabulary of his work.
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 (2018), Kenya, and a 6-week fellowship in Italy at the Civitella Ranieri Foundation (2019). Otieno’s work has been exhibited at international art fairs in Cape Town, Lagos, and Paris, and he has an ever-growing base of local and international private and institutional collectors." - Cirlce Art Gallery