Dickson Kaloki is no stranger to us. Since his last exhibition at the Talisman, he moved out from Kuona Trust Arts Centre in Kilimani, taking his studio to his residence in Kileleshwa. As he prepares for an upcoming solo exhibition at Omnibus, London’s newest arts centre and creative space, we are privy to his latest creations.
So, what aspects of Kaloki’s evolving ‘Slum Series’ have transformed? Each time Kaloki reveals his charcoal/acrylic shantytowns again, there are more layers. Slowly but surely, he has managed to create that depth that allows you to peer in to the alleyways and behind the corners of the impermanent structures. His recent works flaunt new accoutrements, a bicycle, garbage can or old tyre here and there, and an added layer of tissue producing a new and interesting texture.
We also catch a few of Kaloki’s pop-portraits created in quick colourful strikes of acrylic paint. His ‘Mirror on the Wall’ reveals a brand new technique. It is a figurative work, an abstract nude that has been fashioned using thin strokes of paint in a varied palette of purple, green, red, blue and orange. For those who are familiar with Kaloki’s artwork, this figure drawing will come as a pleasant surprise. It is an enchanting painting and we hope to see more from this range.
For the last 3 years, Kaloki’s evolving Slum Series was meant to show us that, “slums are just a situation.” We probed him to tell us more. “People are not guaranteed to be happy just because they live in a high-class area,” he says. “In the same way, just because you are born and raised in the slums, doesn’t mean that you can’t succeed.” Kaloki wants to show the unprivileged that they cannot use their misfortune as a crutch or an excuse to stop working towards a better future.
Beginning in London and then moving on to Russia, Kaloki intends to produce five paintings in five countries over the next year. The next three countries to follow Russia will be wherever the wind takes him. His mission is to show people in different parts of the world that it is not where they live but how they live that matters.
Dickson Kaloki will be showing at Talisman from Tuesday June 24th to Sunday July 13th, 2014.
For his biography, visit www.dicksonkaloki.com or http://www.the-star.co.ke/news/article-4603/charcoal-effect