Joel Oswaggo (Kenyan, born 1944)
‘A man and his wife drinking their beer at the time of harvesting’, undated

signed ‘by Joel Oswaggo’ (lower right)
acrylic on canvas
18 x 25cm
Ksh 50,000–70,000
US$ 570–795
Sold Ksh 117,400

Provenance: Private Collection through One Off Gallery

Oswaggo began drawing as a boy, intrigued by the illustrations he saw in schoolbooks and replicating them on the walls of his home. He grew up in a time of significant transition for the Luo people, with Western culture gaining increasing influence.

Oswaggo worked for a period as a sign-writer in Uganda where he developed his skills under the tutelage of Italian colleagues before returning home. He struggled to make a living until he was supported and promoted by Gallery Watatu owner, Ruth Schaffner who recognized the skill of his illustrations and the importance of his work as a commentary on local traditions, particularly those of his ethnic group.

These small paintings document scenes of village life in the past and are a record of a vanishing way of life.