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Sanaa Gateja at Karma Gallery


Karma’s NOURISHMENT is Sanaa Gateja’s first solo exhibition in Los Angeles. The exhibition precedes Gateja’s inclusion in the current edition of the Venice Biennale, where the artist represents the Ugandan Pavilion curated by Elizabeth Acaye Kerunen. Gateja’s intricate assemblages are made of thousands of hand-rolled post-consumer waste paper beads sewn onto bark cloth. They are developed through a process he calls “unit construction,” where each individual bead is one unit and stands by itself as a complete sculpture that is later assimilated into the larger composition. The two-dimensional material of paper, which is tightly rolled, varnished, and dried, transforms into a three-dimensional form in works like Granary (2023).

After an education in Osaka, Florence, and London, a position in Uganda’s Ministry of Culture, and the launch of his very own Sanaa Gallery in Mombasa, Kenya, Gateja returned to Uganda with techniques he had encountered during his travels. The beads, which serve as the basis of Gateja’s works, are assembled by the artist’s community members. As evident in NOURISHMENT, Gateja’s practice embodies cycles of mutual influence and support with works that are “nourished” by ancestral knowledge.

Photo: Sanaa Gateja, Granary, 2023, paper beads on barkcloth, 75 x 64 1/2 inches; 190.5 x 163.83 cm.