Sanaa Gateja is exhibiting at Themes & Variations in London from 16 November – 16 December, together with Romuald Hazoumé, Fabrice Monteiro, Hamed Ouattara, Omar Victor Diop, Simphiwe Mngometulu, Ifeanyi Oganwu, Armand Boua, Peter Mabeo, Porky Hefer, Toyin Loyé and Jabu Nala and others.
Themes & Variations’ exhibition ‘SEEKING AFRICA Design / Art Across a Continent’, through the selection of works presented, explores the growing sense of affinity among artists dispersed throughout the continent.
Each designer is on a journey of selection from a formidable visual heritage, carrying traditional references into contemporary design. Their work strongly reflects Africa’s ancestral symbiosiswith nature . In this time of depletion of resources, the artists are deeply conscious of the need to reuse and recycle materials, creating vigorous works that are functional and imaginative.
This exhibition challenges the division between ‘designer’ and ‘artisan’, revealing the artists’
skills and ability to make their own works in contrast with the conformity and remoteness of mass production.
‘SEEKING AFRICA Design / Art Across a Continent’, while celebrating each artist’s vision
also attests to their underlying bond – one of a shared, modern African identity where social
engagement unites with sustainability.
Sanaa Gateja marshals thousands of beads made from sustainable sources of paper, subverting the traditional glass source material. A staggering array of shapes, colours, and sizes compose his intricate wallhangings, sculptures and wearable art.
In utilising cloth made from bark harvested from Ficus trees which had been largely reserved for major cultural ceremonies, Gateja also challenges revered social beliefs. He defends its incorporation in informal and decorative applications and the bark cloth forms the structural
spine of his wall hangings.
One of his recent projects exhibited at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York featured an over-sized woman’s necklace and a panel made of printed material and literature recycled from President Obama’s second campaign.