The Media Paintings of Joseph Bertiers
February 28 through April 24,1998
Joseph Bertiers is a 33-year-old artist from Nairobi Kenya who began his artistic career in his teens painting signs for local bars, butcher shops, and beauty parlors. Frustrated with the limitations of creative expression offered by his commercial work and exercising his signature humor, he launched a series of paintings entitled Painting a Cat--I Really Hate It, suggesting that only brushing paint on live cats could be worse than sign painting. Although Bertiers has never set foot outside Kenya, his addiction to current events via radio, newspapers and magazines has fueled a unique style of paintings that bridges the gap between "naive" art and the issues of the 90s. Fools and dreamers, heroes and charlatans, domestic bliss and marital discord, personal foibles and national tragedies--all have found expression in Bertiers' spirited and penetrating work. Mining newspapers, magazines, and the Cable News Network (CNN) for subject matter, Bertiers portrays world leaders such as Sadaam Hussein, President Clinton, and Yassar Arafat in stunning interpretative compositions. Celebrities and global events are also given the Bertiers' treatment whose hallmark is cutting satire coupled with painting that displays extraordinary formal beauty and penetrating wit.