• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 7802

    International Modern and Contemporary Art

    29 April 2009, Jumeirah Emirates Towers Hotel

  • Lot 118

    Nja Mahdaoui (Tunisian, b. 1937)

    Calligrams

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    Nja Mahdaoui (Tunisian, b. 1937)
    Calligrams
    signed in Arabic (lower right)
    India ink, paint and gold paint on parchment
    43¼ x 34¼in. (110 x 85cm.)
    Executed in 1990


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    Known as the 'choreographer of letters', Nja Mahdaoui works on vellum, paper, fabric, polystyrene, metal, filling them with stylized Arabic calligraphy. Although his words are rarely decipherable, he uses letterforms as motifs to create rhythmic and melodic compositions.
    These two works by Mahdaoui encapsulate many layers of meanings. Clearly written on vellum with materials close to those of 9th century Qur'anic scribes, but in a style which seems almost Far Eastern, they exist between tradition and modernity, calligraphy and abstract art, and act as a bridge between East and West.

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