BARCODE - The Layer Between

David Thuku - Kenya

When a local consumer purchases his or her favorite product, he/she often assumes that the product from a foreign country is of higher quality and that a locally made product is of compromised quality or expensive beyond affordability. However, this is just a mindset, as it may only be influenced by the packaging of the product.
In this context the product is not a physical one but a way of being that can shape or even change the common ways of life.

In ‘BARCODE-the layer between’ I am focusing on those patterns of acquisition. They are presented in different layers that are unfamiliar to the consumer and these layers require symbols of instructions on how the product should be handled. In this process, the new ideals transform the consumer into someone he or she was not before, be it positive or negative. It is like the process of consuming something new that may bring change of perception or change of appearance to the customer, depending on the product or the idea.

Through the use of a ‘Barcode’ all details of a new product are acquired and the new product becomes part of the new consumer. It is that ‘in-between’ character of the Barcode that makes the process transitional between the previous and the new owner of the product or the ideal. As the layers advance towards the outer environment, the viewer becomes part of the process that completes the work.
All the characters are in motion or appear to be in motion and they represent a desire to move towards something greater, a desire to becoming a better person BARCODE is a continuous process and a wider theme that I would like to explore further with different slogans. “The layer in between” is the first slogan.”

David Thuku | KENYA


David Thuku was born in 1985 in Nakuru, Kenya. He is a painter and mixed media artist.
A recipient of the Langalanga Scholarship Fund – a UK based Charity Organisation – David graduated from the Buru Buru Institute of Fine Arts in Nairobi in 2009. In 2013 he co-founded Brush-Tu Studio, a creative arts collective providing artists with studio space and collaborative exchange and in 2016 he joined the prestigious Kuona Trust Arts Centre in Nairobi.

Currently he lives and works in Nairobi from his studio at Kobo Trust.  He has exhibited extensively in Nairobi, and recently participated in international Art Fairs, including 1: 54 Contemporary African Art Fair, London, Young International Art Fair and Drawing Now, Paris.

Thuku has been working and experimenting with paper for several years using the ‘sgraffito’ technique - normally associated with applying layers of plaster tinted in contrasting colors to a moistened surface and then scratching material away to reveal parts of the underlying layer. He overlays several sheets of paper, carefully tested and selected for their physical properties and color, and then cuts and peels them away to reveal carefully constructed images, enriched with glazed acrylic, spray paint and pastel.

Selected Exhibitions
  • 2017 – ‘Also Known As Africa Art Fair, Paris
  • 2017 – ‘Young Guns’, Group exhibition, Circle Art Gallery, Nairobi
  • 2017 – ‘Drawing Now’, Art Fair, Paris
  • 2016 – ‘This for That’, Group Show with Michael Musyoka, Art Space Gallery, Nairobi
  • 2016 – ‘1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair’, London.
  • 2016 – ‘Young International Art Fair, Paris
  • 2015 – ‘Paper II ’Group Show, Circle Art Gallery Nairobi.
  • 2015 – Kenya Art Fair, Nairobi.
  • 2014 – Charity Ball Exhibition and Auction, Salisbury, UK
  • 2013 – ‘Mind, Body and Soul’, Group Show with Maina Boniface, UNRC, Nairobi
  • 2012 – Charity Ball Exhibition and Auction (TTS-Group and Langalanga Scholarship Fund) Salisbury, UK
  • 2011 – Group Exhibition, National Museums of Kenya.
  • 2011 – Group exhibition, UN Head Quarter (G23 summit), Nairobi, Kenya
  • 2010 – Charity Ball exhibition and Auction (TTS-Group and Langalanga Scholarship Fund), Salisbury, UK.
  • 2008 – Group exhibition with Wajukuu Art Project, Nairobi, Kenya
From this Exhibition
Publications & Press
Consumerism critiqued as art By Margareta wa Gacheru - BUSINESS DAILY
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