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ARTS: Sanaa and Sane

Showcasing beads and satire at AKAA Paris art fair

Kampala, Uganda | DOMINIC MUWANGUZI |  Sanaa Gateja’s art easily captivates with its merging of African traditional art elements with the contemporary. The multi-disciplinary artist creates large tapestries of multi-coloured paper beads- produced from waste paper like magazine and newspapers- stitched on tree bark cloth fabric.

It is his medium for figuratively representing social themes like migration, inequality, material culture, and more. His art also touches on the subject of environment sustainability and conservation, reflected by his adoption of organic and synthetic media in his work.

The woman is a central subject is his art, not only because the artist employs her to tailor these awesome artworks- Sanaa engages hundreds of women in his studio located in Lubowa off Entebbe Road, to produce the paper-beads-but as a symbol of women empowerment and emancipation. The woman has often been relegated on the periphery of the male- dominated society; mainly as a housekeeper and not as an innovative character.

Sanaa’s style, message, and relevance have inspired international interest in his work. Wherever he has exhibited; locally, at international art festivals, and in auction houses across Europe and America, he gets approval as an innovative artist for his unique exploration and experimentation with paper-beads.

He has produced a series of works incorporating campaign posters of President Barrack Obama that includes PATHS- a series- that explores the theme of African history as a journey has previously featured at the Johannesburg Art Fair in South Africa. He recently showcased to universal acclaim at the AKAA (Also Known As Africa) Art Fair in Paris, France that focuses on contemporary art from the African continent.

At the same festival, youthful Eria Sane Nsubuga featured painting of his political satire. He tackled capitalism, neo-colonialism and other social injustices.

He even tackles the ongoing political-social evils in Europe and elsewhere because he draws reference on current affairs like migration and immigration, unemployment, the surge in unorthodox sexual orientations like homosexuality in the west, and more. Using satire and sarcasm enables him to objectively analyse them.

The participation of these two Ugandan artists in AKAA reflects how much the contemporary art scene in Uganda has grown. With over 15,000 visitors in 2016, AKAA has established itself as a major artistic rendezvous for contemporary art scene from Africa enthusiasts. It is a commercial and cultural platform for artists coming from Africa and its Diaspora, and others inspired by the continent.


The AKAA Art Fair, Paris took place on 10-12 November at Carreau du Temple, Paris. Sanaa Gateja and Eria Sane Nsubuga were presented at the festival by Afriart Gallery.

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