SANAA GATEJA | AFRICAN SYMBOLISM
signed and dated 2017 (on the reverse)
paper beads on barkcloth
250 by 150cm., 98½ by 59in.
Please note: Condition 11 of the Conditions of Business for Buyers (Online Only) is not applicable to this lot
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Structure: Appears sound.
Surface: Possible loss of a pink bead within the lower right-hand side of the work (possible other instances elsewhere but not strikingly apparent.) Minor surface marks in places on the reverse.
Summary: This work appears to be in very good condition.
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The lot is sold in the condition it is in at the time of sale. The condition report is provided to assist you with assessing the condition of the lot and is for guidance only. Any reference to condition in the condition report for the lot does not amount to a full description of condition. The images of the lot form part of the condition report for the lot provided by Sotheby's. Certain images of the lot provided online may not accurately reflect the actual condition of the lot. In particular, the online images may represent colours and shades which are different to the lot's actual colour and shades. The condition report for the lot may make reference to particular imperfections of the lot but you should note that the lot may have other faults not expressly referred to in the condition report for the lot or shown in the online images of the lot. The condition report may not refer to all faults, restoration, alteration or adaptation because Sotheby's is not a professional conservator or restorer but rather the condition report is a statement of opinion genuinely held by Sotheby's. For that reason, Sotheby's condition report is not an alternative to taking your own professional advice regarding the condition of the lot.
Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner
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 barkcloth, paper, raffia, wood and banana fiber, using his materials to construct large experimental abstract pieces of social and environmental commentary that straddle installation, tapestry and sculpture and strike a balance between aesthetic and conceptual value.
“When I make these paper beads in that particular shape, they look like Egyptian beads, the Egyptian tops the queens used to wear. And I have a feeling that our history, African history is hugely connected to Egypt, so through the bead, I’m trying to connect Africa to our ancestors. The bead trade was the biggest trade at one point in Africa because we wore them, we cherished them, it was wealth, a form of money, so beads were available in plenty. They are also used in our spiritual practices were they are tied around new born babies and counted.”
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); 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).
Sanaa Gateja is the founder of Kwetu Africa Art and Development Centre based in Lubowa, Kampala, Uganda. He started the centre 22 years ago to research, innovate, and create art using easily available materials. He trains mainly rural communities in skills using art to fight poverty. One of his unique contributions is the innovation of recycling paper into beads in 1990 at his Kwetu Africa Studio Kilembe in Western Uganda. The paper beads have spread throughout East African communities providing a livelihood to as many as 50,000 especially women and youth.