Special Holiday Exhibition: Sanaa Gateja, Dec. 1 2013 – Mar. 1 2014 @ The Nairobi Gallery
Dates: December 1, 2013 to March 1, 2014
Entry: Museum Rates Apply
Sanaa Gateja was born in Kisoro, Uganda in l950, where he completed his early education. In l970, he moved to Mombasa where he opened his first art gallery across from the port at Mombasa Old Town called Studio Sanaa. This expanded into Fort Jesus Museum in l974. His gallery was among the first to concentrate on exhibiting the traditional arts of Kenya, including the functional arts of Northern Kenya and Lamu and
basketry and jewellery from the East African coast . He worked closely with other pioneer art organizations in Mombasa such as Bombolulu and Mombasa Home Industries. In l976, he opened the first major art gallery in the Mombasa city centre where he exhibited works by East African artists and craftsmen. He also redesigned the Lawford’s Hotel in Malindi in Swahili style.
In the l980’s, Sanaa relocated his studio and workshops to Nairobi. He founded a brass workshop where he created and produced brass lamps, traditional coffee pots and other brass ware including the unique lampstands in the Nairobi Serena hotel lobby. He held several exhibitions at African Heritage Gallery in Nairobi, at the National Museums of Kenya and the Kenya National Archives.
Sanaa then trained as a gold and silver jewellery designer in Florence, Italy after which he worked within the art and jewellery trade in London for 6 years. He held a major solo exhibition of both jewellery and paintings at the African Centre in London to celebrate Uganda’s liberation in 1986 .
In 1989 Sanaa returned to Uganda where he founded Kwetu Afrika Art and Development Centre based in Lubowa, Kampala, Uganda to research, innovate, and create using easily available materials, as a way of using art to fight poverty. One of his unique contributions was the innovation of recycling paper into beads which he started in 1990 at his Kwetu Africa Studio and which has spread throughout East African communities providing a livelihood to many jobless , especially women and youth. His Centre exports many products made of hand made paper beads employing dozens of skilled women workers full time and many others on a part time basis. Thus he is often called “The Bead King”.
Alliance Francaise supported his exhibitions in Kampala 2000, Kigali 2004, Nairobi 2012, and Eindhoven in the Netherlands. His work featured in “Design in Africa”, an African artist’s and designer’s exhibition that travelled through Europe, American and Asia from 2008 to 2010. In 2008, 2009, and 2010 he held major exhibitions at Baraka Gallery in Lamu, as well as exhibitions at Diani Beach Art Gallery.
Other recent exhibitions:
Museum of Art and Design in New York 2010/11.
Saatchi and Saatchi Kampala, Pulse Advertising Agency Kampala, Java Coffee House,