Artist Spotlight

Nja Mahdaoui: the choreographer of letters

84-year-old Nja Mahdaoui is one of Tunisia’s leading artists and well-known in the contemporary Arabic art industry. As he explores signs he considers himself to be a choreographer of letters. Namely, his work is inspired by Arabic calligraphy. His work is innovative, as the letters move in various directions. The compositions Mahdaoui creates are poetic and rhythmic. Words are dancing together on the parchment,written in ink. The artist emphasizes the visual impact of his compositions, without a particular textual meaning, which he calls calligrams and graphemes.

Aside from parchment Mahdaoui also uses other materials and media to display his art. He created masterpieces on Canvas, vellum, papyrus, arches paper, silkscreen print, book, poster, design,sculpture, aluminium, brass, melamine, drum, textile, embroidery, tapestry,ceramic, wood, jewellery, stained steel glass… His work is characterized by Arabic letters that come together in a colourful design. Because of the nice prints these designs consist out of his work fits perfectly on bigger objects, such as planes and architecture.

During his career Mahdaoui has participated on many special occasions. He has been Honor Guest and jury member at many international events. He also received a number of distinctions and international awards. Mahdaoui got the honour of designing monumental artworks such as sculptures on airports and mosques.

What makes the work of Mahdaoui so special is that it has been displayed on so many different occasions, materials and in a broad variety of places. His work is innovative, as the Arabic letters are coming together in pattens, instead of the straight lines people usually see them in. His art is visible on a common canvas but also on architecture andin theatres, which makes it accessible for a big audience.

Furthermore it is wonderful to see that Mahdaoui is able to translate his connection to theArabic calligraphy into artworks that can be appreciated by a wide variety of people, even the ones that do not understand Arabic. Finally, I particularly love that Mahdaoui is able to make the ordinary the extraordinary, as he converts letters that are used day by day into choreographies that can be displayed on various occasions on all different levels a society has.



Publications Archives - Nja Mahdaoui (

Get Our Monthly Newsletter, Directly Into Your Inbox!

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form