Artist Bio


Sanaa Gateja an exceptional artist and jeweler has been nicknamed ‘The Bead King’ in his native Uganda. He derives this name from being the inventor of beads made from recycled paper which he uses to create pieces of various designs and composition.

As an artist his work ethic and preference for recycled materials suite the global consciousness of present times which highly regard the environment and its preservation. Quite ironical given he started out as an artist in the 60s!

Sanaa’s artwork could be described as mixed-media experimental abstract art. His pieces emphasize use of beads, bark cloth and sometimes raffia to depict different scenes that he has encountered. The Bark cloth Tree with many names from the Great Lakes Region: Mutuba, Mutooma, Muvumu is an Environmental miracle tree of the Ficus family. The tree will produce skin up to four times and has medicinal advantages for Human and Animals. This Leguminous tree is fodder for Animals and will grow to full size within three years.

“Life is a journey with a purpose. The message I bring is visually African. The themes I present are universally human. Dealing with the materials that guide me, I talk with you, the observer. We share the energy within us provoked by Art”.

Gateja is indeed one of Uganda’s most universally acclaimed artists. Sanaa holds a wealth of experience and has several influences to his work having studied both in the UK (London college of Art and Design) and in Europe’s culture capital: Florence, at the Universita Internazonale dell Arte.

Currently the only Ugandan exhibiting at the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) in New York, Sanaa is very active and has exhibited extensively since 1980 in Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, UK, USA and Germany among other countries.

Sanaa is very active and has exhibited extensively since 1980 in Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, UK, USA and Germany among other countries.

  • Truth is Gold 2

    Sanaa Gateja Truth is gold 2, 2018, Paper beads on barkcloth, 150 x 210 cm

  • Ancient Language

    Sanaa Gateja Ancient language, 2017, Paper beads on barkcloth, 140 x 140 cm

  • Change

    Sanaa Gateja Change (2016) 600 cm x 250 cm Paper beads on barkcloth

  • Home Estate

    Sanaa Gateja Home Estate, 2017, Paper beads on barkcloth, 160 x 160cm

  • Success

    Sanaa Gateja Success, 176 x 195 cm, Paper beads on bark-cloth, 2016

  • Smile

    Sanaa Gateja, Smile, 2016 120 x 120 cm, Paper beads on barcloth

  • Bird Queen of the Forest

    Sanaa Gateja Paper beads on barkcloth 188 x 112cm 2017

  • Function

    Sanaa Gateja Paper beads on barkcloth 152 x 107cm 2016

  • Life Source

    Sanaa Gateja Paper beads on barkcloth 180 x 180cm 2017


Recent ExhibitionsLinks / PressVideo

2017 AKAA Paris Art Fair 2017 

2017 A love that dares – Afriart Gallery, Kampala

2017 Cape town Art fair

2016 Themes and Variations gallery London – Seeking Africa|Design/Art across a continent.

2016 FNB Joburg Art fair- Featured artist

2010 MAD Museum of Art and Design New York- The show is still travelling within US Museum Galleries

2007 Expo Gwanju Korea – Recycled paper Jewelry

2006 Sankaranka Gallery Brooklyn NY – Solo Exhibition Art

2006 Mbari Institute Washington DC – Solo Exhibition

2004 Novotel Kigali Rwanda – Solo Exhibitions of Art

1996 Danish Chamber of Commerce Copenhagen – group show

1991 Ludwig Beck Munich Germany – Group Jewellery and Art shows in Cologne.

1990 Berlin International Trade Fair – group show. Recycled paper beads in jewellery

1986 The Round House Camden London – Paintings and Jewelry – group Exhibition

1985 Royal Festival Hall London – Gold Silver and Metal jewelry – Group New Horizon Exhibition