Sanaa Gateja is an exceptional artist and jeweler and 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 compositions.
As an artist his work ethic and preference for recycled materials suit the global consciousness of present times, which highly regard the environment and its preservation. This is something quite ironic 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 the use of beads, bark cloth and sometimes raffia to depict different scenes that he has encountered.
He says, “Life is a journey with a purpose. The message I bring is visually African. The themes I paint 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.