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Big Mama

Big Mama
signed, titled and dated 'BIG MAMA Sanaa Gateja 2014' (on the reverse)
acrylic and paper beads on stitched bark cloth
62 1/4 x 37 3/4in. (158 x 96cm.)
Executed in 2014
32° East Ugandan Arts Trust, Kampala.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2015.
Special notice

This lot will be removed to our storage facility at Momart. Christie’s will inform you if the lot has been sent offsite. Our removal and storage of the lot is subject to the terms and conditions of storage which can be found at and our fees for storage are set out in the table below - these will apply whether the lot remains with Christie’s or is removed elsewhere. Please call Christie’s Client Service 24 hours in advance to book a collection time at Momart. All collections from Momart will be by pre-booked appointment only. Tel: +44 (0)20 7839 9060 Email: If the lot remains at Christie’s it will be available for collection on any working day 9.00 am to 5.00 pm. Lots are not available for collection at weekends.

Brought to you by

Isabel Millar
Isabel Millar Specialist

Lot Essay

Sanaa Gateja’s intricate mixed-media work is focused on the use of recycled waste materials, which he often combines with supports such as bark cloth, raffia and banana fibre. From the waste, most notably discarded paper, Gateja fabricates beads which adorn the surface of his colourful, richly textural compositions. As such, the artist makes ‘the emergence of new work from the disarray possible’.
Gateja’s fame in Uganda has afforded him the moniker ‘Bead King’. Through his work he also aims to empower those around him, especially the women he trains and employs to assist in the creation of his often monumental tapestry-like works. He was himself inspired early on by the craftsmanship of the potters, blacksmiths, and weavers in his childhood village, as well as his time spent studying interior design in Italy and, later, design at Goldsmiths University of London.
Executed in 2014, Big Mama is a dynamic example of Gateja’s beadwork practice. Its organic, swirling composition interacts with a striking wealth and balance of colour, creating a vivid biomorphic presence.
Sanaa Gateja lives and works in Kampala, Uganda. After fleeing the civil war in the 1980s he lived between Kenya, Italy and the United Kingdom. His work has been exhibited at the Mbari Institute, Washington, D.C; The Museum of Art and Design, New York, and the Carnegie Museum, Pittsburgh. He was a featured artist at art fairs such as 1-54 London, New York and Paris and the Joburg Art Fair (2016). Gateja’s work is held in the permanent collection of the National Museum of Scotland. His work is on permanent display at the National Museums of Kenya and Uganda.

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