Alpha Odhiambo

Nairobi, Kenya

"I became passionate about art when I was about seven,” says Alpha, 21, born and raised in Nairobi’s slum, Kibera. “I have not studied art at a college. I learn by going to exhibitions, galleries and sale houses. I am influenced by Warhol and Van Gogh, and follow Cuban artist CB Hoyo, but my real hero is an American graffiti artist, Jean-Michel Basquiat.”


Alpha believes that art in Kenya "must be made public", that "art must be available in daily life to everyone, so people learn to appreciate and engage with art." He thinks that Kenyan media, too, should play a more proactive role in promoting art to the public. 

 

Odhiambo’s source of inspiration is his Kibera upbringing: “Kibera is fun! People are poor but they are happy too.” His Afro-expressionist work is a social commentary and critique on his upbringing? in Kibera. His tightly populated paintings are packed with menacing urban existence rendered through drawing, painting and collage, which appropriate both text and images, abstraction and figuration. 

 

Alpha dreams of starting his own art magazine ‘ODH’ (the first three letters of his name). “It would show art made by Africans to Africans. Currently there is no such magazine. It would help teach Kenyans about art and also strengthen the Kenyan art market, which is currently virtually non-existent and a big challenge. Sadly, only ten percent of my art buyers are Africans.”


Alpha's work is in private collectors locally and internationally. 



Awards


MASK Awards 2019



Artist statement


"My inspiration comes from every blink and second of my life. I get inspired by everything."



CV & exhibition history


One Off Gallery, Nairobi, 2021 and 2022

Panafrican Hotel, Nairobi, 2017

United Nations, Kenya, 2015

National Museum of Kenya, 2014