• International Modern & Contemp auction at Christies

    Sale 7804

    International Modern & Contemporary Art

    27 October 2009, Jumeirah Emirates Towers Hotel

  • Lot 9

    Nja Mahdaoui (Tunisian, b.1937)

    Triptych 3

    Price Realised  


    Nja Mahdaoui (Tunisian, b.1937)
    Triptych 3
    signed in Arabic (lower right of the right panel)
    india ink, acrylic gold and silver on canvas; triptych
    each 55 x 39 3/8in. (140 x 100cm.); overall 55 x 118 1/8 (140 x 300cm.)
    Executed in 2007 (3)

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    In this outstanding large triptych Nja Mahdaoui combines his signature abstracted calligraphic style with its various regimented and sweeping forms, with emphatic rectangular and triangular shapes, which carry through from panel to panel, creating a strong dynamic effect.

    Nja Mahdaoui's work is based on the shapes associated with the various cursive and Kufic Arabic scripts, but he is more interested in movement, the rhythms and the visual effects of the act of writing and the expressive potential of the morphology of letters, than the content itself. Sometimes described as a "choreographer of letters", for him "words restrict the meaning" (Rose Issa cited in Rochan Gallery, Jeddah Nja Mahdaoui exhibition catalogue, 1994). In most of his work, Mahdaoui remains strongly influenced by Tunisian cultural traditions, such as textile arts, but manages to harmonize traditional calligraphic styles with contemporary abstract art.


    Galerie El-Marsa, La Marsa, Tunisia.
    Acquired from the above in 2007.

    Pre-Lot Text