Art Auction East Africa 2022 Lot 53 Sane Wadu

Sane Wadu (Kenyan, born 1954)
Jesus Bird, 2018
Signed ‘Sane Wadu’ (lower right)
Oil on canvas
54 x 64 cm – framed
Ksh 300,000 – 450,000
(US$) 2,600 – 3,900
Provenance: from the artist’s collection
Sold Ksh 2,230,600

Having previously worked as a teacher, a court clerk, a writer, a playwright and a theatre actor, Sane Wadu began painting professionally in the 1980s and went on to become one of Gallery Watatu’s most iconic artists. Over a long and distinguished career he has gained acclaim for his expressionistic, energetic paintings, which use thickly applied oil paint to create critically reflective narratives and scenes.

In the 1990s, Wadu co-founded the Ngecha Artists’ Association with his contemporaries Eunice Wadu, Wanyu Brush and Chain Muhandi. Working alongside his wife and fellow artist Eunice Wadu, he continues to support young artists through The Sane Wadu Trust where they hold weekly art workshops from their studio in Naivasha. Living close to Lake Naivasha, this painting is inspired by the lake shore, the weaver birds that nest in the reeds, the hippos that pop up to the surface and the African Jacana with its huge feet seeking to escape the hippos, and appearing to walk on water.

Wadu’s work has been exhibited worldwide, including in the USA, Germany, South Africa, Japan and the UK, notably in the seminal exhibition, Seven Stories about Modern Art in Africa, Whitechapel Art Gallery, 1995 and its accompanying book. Other publications include Angaza Africa by the African curator at the British Museum, Chris Spring, 2008 and Contemporary African Art by Sidney Kasfir, 2000. In 2021 Wadu has exhibited in the travelling group show Mwili Akili na Roho, at The Royal Academy, London and Haus Der Kunst, Munich and a solo retrospective at Nairobi Contemporary Art Institute in 2022.