Born in 1937 in Tunisia, Nja Mahdaoui graduated from the Academia Santa Andrea in Rome and the École du Louvre in Paris in 1967. He pursued his academic training at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris with a scholarship from the Tunisian government. Nja has been Jury member and Honor guest of many international events and biennales and he is a member of the International jury committee of the UNESCO Prize for the Promotion of the Arts. He has received a number of distinctions and international awards.
Nja Mahdaoui is a visual artist, an explorer of signs. He has been portrayed as a “choreographer of letters”. His work, inspired by Arab calligraphy, is remarkably innovative as the aesthetic dimension of letters brings forth a sense of the poetic - highly rhythmic– arresting us with its rich abstract compositions. Thus, his creative approach is conveyed through the choice of material and medium. He has illustrated legendary or sacred myths, tales or manuscripts. For instance, he has illustrated stories from the collection of tales “One Thousand and One Nights” which have been the subject of an outstanding French edition, thus reminding us how the influence of Arab literature and culture on our world is immense.
Nja participated in numerous exhibitions worldwide including at Casa Arabe in Madrid (2010-2011), the Arab World Institute (IMA) in Paris, the Hermitage Museum in St-Petersburg, the National Museum of Scotland and the Modern Art Museum in Baghdad, to mention only a few. In addition, he took part in performing art projects, introducing his work in performance art within the framework of theatre and dance such as an amazing body-writing performance in 1985 at La Maison des Cultures du Monde (the Home of World Cultures) in Paris and in 1987 at the Contemporary Art Museum Ludwig de Aachen in Germany. He has been working with many private and public institutions worldwide and has done monumental works for the Museum of Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, the International Airports of Jeddah and Riyadh in Saudi Arabia and the decoration of Gulf Air aircrafts in 2000. In addition, he is regularly represented at international art fairs such as in Basel, Paris, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Marrakech and Miami by Elmarsa gallery.
His works have been widely shown around the world in GCC, Asia, America, Africa and Europe. His works have been widely showed around the world, and can be found in many private and public collections including at the British Museum and the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC, the Mathaf – Arab Museum of Modern Art in Doha, the Institut du Monde Arabe (IMA) in Paris, the National Gallery of Kuala Lumpur. He is considered as one of the major contemporary Arab artists. He lives and works in Tunisia.