Sanaa Gateja (b:1950) lives and works in Kampala (Uganda). His work investigates East African notions of nature, culture, and philosophy and how to reconcile them with innovation and creativity.
His practice focuses on the making of soft sculptures that are mostly composed of material derived from trees: paper - recycled from newspapers, magazines, and popular books and bark-cloth, an ancient material made from an East African ficus tree that is still produced following specific rituals involving drumming and dance. The paper is transformed in conical beads by the Studio community, then tinted by hand and meticulously stitched on the bark-cloth in layered abstract or figurative compositions.
The rich tableaux hence created deploy a textile, haptic quality that evokes a protective pelt connecting the artworks with notions of shamanism.
Gatejaʼs works are permanently on display in The National Museums of Uganda and Kenya. They were exhibited among other places in the Cairo International Biennial, Egypt; Museum of Art and Design, New York; Biennale Gwangju, Korea, Mbari Institute Washington, African Centre, London.