Nja Mahdaoui is known by critics as a “choreographer of letters,” and describes himself as an “explorer of signs.” Celebrated for his innovative practice, Mahdaoui composes vibrant pieces through the energetic layout of calligraphy and texts that he draws from legendary and sacred myths, tales, and manuscripts. He is most recognised for his ink works on parchment although he also works in wood, aluminum, brass, papyrus, and melamine.
After studying at the Atelier Libre in Carthage, Mahdaoui graduated with a degree in graphic design from Accademia Santa Andréa di Roma. The Tunisian government then awarded him a scholarship to continue his training in Paris at Cité Internationale des Arts. Mahdaoui is a member of the generation in the Arab world who studied abroad, yet sought inspiration in the region. During the early 1970s he began exploring the word in his practice under the influence of prominent Iranian artist Hossein Zenderoudi.
A prolific artist, Mahdaoui is also a writer and illustrator He has produced six books, and designed tapestries, book covers, and publication illustrations. He has performed at international cultural institutions, including La Maison des Cultures du Monde in Paris. His monumental works are on display at Museum Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia and the international airports in Jeddah and Riyadh. Nja Mahdaoui lives and works in Tunisia.