painting cats

I thought about renaming my blog from “Kikuyumoja’s Realm” into “JKE’s photo safari blog” for a moment, but then…

Harrycane, the kids & I went to the christmas bazar at the German Embassy/Church place on Riverside Drive in Nbo today, and despite of meeting some old friends I hadn’t seen for a long long time, I also had a chance of meeting one of Kenya’s finest artists: Bertiers.

Joseph Bertiers, this humble sign writer from Dagoretti who has actually won some prestigious awards in the past, is no stranger to me. I had this really funny poster on “toilet use” in my bathroom he made for the GTZ some 12 (?) years ago, I remember he made a painting of our graduation class in 1996 (Mathias, where is it? in Frankfurt?) and even fellow blogger / videojournalist Ruud Elmendorp made a short documentary on him some time ago. Bertiers’ name was on my “things to do” list earlier this year when I came to apply for that internship in Embu. I urgently wanted to meet him and see his atelier.

Now, I gave him my card and wrote “Kikuyumoja” on it – and Bertiers instantly told me “yeah, Kikuyumoja’s Realm, I know that site on the internet…”.

Atereere…. :-)))))))))))


Kibs painting cats while Agwambo enjoys an orange drive.


WDR-Wim reporting live from the “rapids cats painting centre”.


These paintings sell for about Ksh. 20.000 /= each, which of course is a proud amount of money. Yani, Bertiers ever-returning theme of “painting cats” is something we’ll continue observing in Kenya’s political scene – which still delivers free-of-charge daily templates for perfectly placed satire. Just imagine the Arthurs saga and their bling bling styles – that’s free entertainment which needs to be turned into art.


Now, despite of the true political observations painted in oil, there are a lot of small and interesting details one discovers by closely looking at these paintings. And I think there’s no better compliment for an artists if a crowd of young kids interestingly inspects these paintings for about 15 minutes. And even after some years, these paintings don’t lose any of their energy.
Trust me: if you’re interested in contemporary Kenyan art, and would like to get something unique – Joseph Bertiers is the man to ask.

@Bertiers: see I don’t have transport at the moment and need to get back to Embu kesho, lakini asap there’s more time, let’s pls arrange for a visit at your studio, ok?

Author: jke

Hi, I am an engineer who freelances in water & sanitation-related IT projects at You'll also find me on Twitter @jke and Instagram.

5 thoughts on “painting cats”

  1. Keep them photos coming. Very dynamic look into the different aspects of the country!

    Where in is Bertier’s studio located? I’d love to see more of his works while there. Thanks for highlighting him and his works!

  2. JKE

    Thanks for this post, the pictures are especially good.

    Any chance you can post some thoughts on what you talked with Bertiers? What is his take on the art scene and how is business doing for him?

    – Steve

  3. JKE, the painting is in St.Pete, I got to take a picture and send it to you. All of us with long hair, except Mr.Ebers of course.

    Take care,

  4. hi, thanks for the insight i really had to look at my country in other people’s eyes to realy apreciate it. Quite a shame

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