Kenyan painter Joseph Bertiers "Sympathy" from 2003 – Oil on wood panel
Sympathy, April 2003
Oil paint on wood panel
25 1/2 x 37 inches
Joseph Bertiers, a postcolonial Kenyan of the Kikuyu tribe, is a 50-year-old artist from Nairobi, who began his artistic career in his teens painting signs for local bars, butcher shops, and beauty parlors. Although Bertiers has never set foot outside Kenya, his addiction to current events via television, radio, newspapers, and magazines has fueled a unique style of painting that bridges the gap between "naive" art and the sociopolitical issues of the 1990s. Fools and dreamers, heroes and charlatans, domestic bliss and marital discord, personal foibles and national tragedies—all have found expression in Bertiers' spirited work. World leaders, celebrities, and global events are portrayed with a cutting satirical bent in paintings that display both formal beauty and penetrating wit.