Sanaa Gateja

Sanaa Gateja is a mixed-media artist and jewellery designer who is widely known for his signature incorporation of recycled man-made waste materials in his practice, particularly his pioneering fashioning of beads from discarded paper, which earned him the nickname ‘The Bead King’ in Uganda.

He also works with bark cloth, paper, raffia, wood and banana fiber, using his materials to construct medium-scale to large experimental abstract pieces that straddle installation, tapestry and sculpture and strike a balance between aesthetic and conceptual value. Gateja allows the material to speak in its own micro-cosmos and ‘weaves’ them into abstract narratives commenting on social and political realities in his home country Uganda.

Gateja studied interior design in Italy and Jewellery Design at Goldsmiths in London. He has exhibited extensively across Africa as well as internationally, including at ARCOlisboa (2019); the Cape Town Art Fair (2017, 2018, 2019, 2022); FNB Joburg Art Fair (2016, 2017 & 2018); Art Paris (2016); AKAA Paris (2017); Themes & Variations, London (2016); and the Museum of Art and Design, New York (2010).


Selected Press:

Arctic Paper: Interview with Sanaa Gateja: He fights Poverty in Uganda through Art. 2018.

Pamela Bentley for Art Africa Magazine: Something like a Constellation. 2019.

CNN African Voices: 'Bead King' expresses himelf through art’ - Ugandan artist Sanaa Gateja creates his works with materials like tree bark and supplies from U.S. President Barack Obama's first presidential campaign.

CNN African Voices: ‘Innovation drives Ugandan artist’ - Sanaa Gateja talks about using paper to transform the traditional art of bead-making.

CNN African Voices: ‘Making art a family business’ - Ugandan artist Sanaa Gateja reflects on collaborating with his daughter who is both an artist and a poet.

1950 -
Nationality: Ugandan