Joel Oswaggo


Joel Oswaggo was born in 1944 in Kamagambo, South Nyanza, Kenya.

He belongs to an earlier generation of self-taught pioneers in Kenya’s art scene, who were promoted and marketed by the curator of Gallery Watatu, the late Ruth Schaffner, in the 1980s and 1990s.

Joel Oswaggo started his artist career in 1968 as a sign board painter for a big business company in Uganda. In the early 1970s, during the regime of Idi Amin, he left Uganda and returned to Kenya.

Joel Oswaggo is well known for his unique artistic style: colour pencil drawings on paper, over the years becoming more and more meticulously elaborated, narrating the disappearing legend and cultural tradition of his Luo community in a hyper-realistic and grotesque style.

His images of traditional life never describe a perfect world – poverty, hunger, disease and death are present in most of his drawings. He lives and works as a freelance artist in his home community in north-western Kenya.

Lunch Meal | Colour Pencil on Paper | 61cm x 40cm - ca. 1996

Magic Healing | Colour Pencil on Paper | 65cm x 4OS2cm - ca. 1996

Grass Thatching | Colour Pencil on Paper | 61cm x 41cm - ca. 1996

The Refugee | Colour Pencil on Paper | 61cm x 40cm - ca. 1996

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