Country: Kenya • Medium: Oil on canvas
Since selling his first piece in 1994 to Gallery Watatu, one of the earliest & most prestigious galleries of the time, Kenyan artist Joseph Cartoon (Joseph Njuguna) has participated in numerous group exhibitions and solo shows in East Africa, USA, Canada, France, Germany, Denmark, Japan, and Korea among other countries.
Some of his achievements include appearing on the cover of Contemporary African Art, a prestigious annual catalogue on Contemporary Art in Africa (1999) and winning the Royal Oversees League Award (2001, as well as being the only nominee from Africa). The latter award earned him a 2 year residency in the UK after which he continued to participate in local and world art projects that have seen him become one of the most collected artists in Kenya.
The powerful interplay of symbolism and colour is outstanding in Cartoon’s art that mainly features the traditional African woman, folk tales and daily aspects of the African family. Other outstanding features are mushrooms indicating the rich highlands where he was born and a chameleon acknowledging ever changing times. Fish stand for the importance of good food and of trade.
Historian Sidney Kasfir (in ‘Contemporary African Art’, 1999) describes him as an artist whose work “possesses an exuberance which is extremely difficult for formally trained artists to achieve.”
Joseph started drawing when he was in primary school. After completing his secondary education, where the subject of art was not taught, he met artist Shine Tani on his way to his uncle’s house. It is through him that Cartoon’s engagement in art was revived again. Shine introduced Cartoon to Gallery Watatu in 1994 where the late Ruth Scheffner purchased three of his paintings.
The drive behind the passion in Cartoon’s heart is to see Kenyan and African art exhibited world wide and artists free to express themselves globally.
Joseph was born in the village of Ngecha in 1976. Now in his mid-thirties, Cartoon is at his career's peak and continues a very active professional life. Early in 2009, his works were on the Scandinavian Tour Exhibition "Africa/ Now"(Denmark, Norway and Finland), while he had an exhibition at RaMoMa Museum in Nairobi, Kenya and at Mawazo Gallery, in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania.
2012: Life Expressions, National Museum of Kenya,
2011: Solo exhibition, Alliance Françoise, Nairobi
2010: African Summer, Group exhibition, Brussels
2009: Solo exhibition, RaMoMa, Nairobi
Solo exhibition (April), Korea
Solo exhibition (August), Korea
2008: Solo exhibition, RaMoMa, Nairobi
Group exhibition, Old Stone Gallery, Zanzibar
Group exhibition, Denmark
2007: Solo exhibition, RaMoMa, Nairobi
Travelling group exhibition, Denmark.
2006: Group exhibition, RaMoMa, Nairobi
2005: Art Festival, National Museum of Kenya
2004: Group exhibition, London
Solo exhibition, Banana Hill Art Studio, Nairobi
2003: Solo exhibition, National Museum of Kenya
Art Affair, National Museum of Kenya
2002: Art Festival, National Museum of Kenya
Scholar’s exhibition, Royal Overseas League, London
2001: Art Affair at RaMoMa, Nairobi
Art Festival, National Museum of Kenya
2000: Group exhibition, Banana Hill Art Studio, Nairobi
1999: Art Festival, National Museum of Kenya
Art Affair, Village Market hosted by RaMoMa, Nairobi
1997: Life Span, United States International University, Nairobi
Banana Hill art exhibition, Colon, Germany
Group exhibition, Sheraton Hotel, Uganda
Tuko Pamoja, German Cultural Centre
Group exhibition, Colon, Germany
1996: Prints exhibition, French Cultural Centre, Nairobi
Etching Workshop exhibition, French Cultural Centre, Nairobi
Small towns, UNEP-Gigiri, Nairobi
East Africa Arts for East African Industries, National Museum, Nairobi
Group exhibition, Gallery Watatu, Nairobi
1995: East Africa Arts for East African Industries, Gallery Watatu, Nairobi
Christmas art exhibition, Gallery Watatu, Nairobi
Kenya Arts, National Museum, Nairobi
Street Children exhibition, USA
Apart from exhibitions, Cartoon’s work has been featured in local and international magazines and books.
In 2001 he won a prestigious art award through ROSL- Overseas League and travelled for a 1 month residency in Scotland and 3 week travelling exhibition in London and Edinburgh.
Over 160 paintings have been collected by individual art collectors and companies in the last 10 years of his art career.