Acrylic, raffia, and recycled magazine beads on ficus tree bark cloth
55.75 x 40.75 in (141.60 x 103.50 cm)
"Back Into the Future" is a fine and rare example of the mid-career artworks of Ugandan artist Sanaa Gateja. It comes from a period in his work in the early 2000s where he was working primarily in geometric forms on a ficus tree barkcloth support. Gateja describes how these geometric forms are significant to his work, especially in presenting the triangle as the human figure. For him, this simple form embodies youth – it projects into the future with passion and in adornment and movement. Even more, he ties the triangle, rectangle and circle to the history of African art and architecture, noting them as the visual language of expression that ties the past to the present.
Just as well, the entire painting has a border of beads that are quintessential to Gateja's work and that also mark his contributions to the artistic communities of Uganda: As the founder of the Kwetu Africa Art and Development Centre in Lubowa, Kampala, Uganda, he worked to push people out of poverty by training artists to use readily available materials. From this, he is credited with the development of beads made from recycled magazine paper. Since 1990, these beads have spread in use across East Africa and help provide livelihoods to as many as 50,000 people, especially women and youth. In his work as well, these beads often dominate the composition, calling to the materials of contemporary life while also hearkening to the traditional decorative forms of African artwork.
Acrylic paint, raffia, and recycled magazine beads on ficus tree bark cloth
55.75 x 40.75 inches, artwork
66.75 x 52.25 inches, frame
Framed to conservation standards using archival materials; float mounted on 100 percent rag matting wrapped in black linen; glazed with UV5 Plexiglas to inhibit fading; housed in a distressed reverse ogee moulding.
Overall good condition; some inherent wrinkles and folds in materials; housed in a new custom frame.