KAUST Mosque Screen | Nja Mahdaoui

23 March, 2010

PROJECT KAUST Art Program
LOCATION Campus Mosque, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
ARTIST Nja Mahdaoui
ENGINEERS Robert Bird Group Engineers
LIGHTING Norman Disney & Young
ART MANAGEMENT Urban Art Projects
YEAR 2009

The vast contribution of Islam to poetry and literature is almost immeasurable, its influence on Western culture far reaching and frequently cited.  One of 15 international artists selected as part of the KAUST International Art Program, Nja Mahdaoui’s work explores this rich literary tradition in ancient and contemporary Islamic culture through the aesthetic form of the letters and words. Mahdaoui’s abstraction of the calligraphy encourages the viewer to create his or her own poetry as it were. Sited on the sacred minaret and the surrounding mashrabiyyah screening for the KAUST mosque, Mahdaoui’s embedded work complements the spirituality of the site and its purpose.

“The use of fragments of letters or symbols in my work is due to my instinctive rejection of the transfiguration of the value of characters,” explains the artist, ” In calligraphy the written letters acquire a symbolic status which they maintain until they vehicle a significance. But as soon as the letter loses its contours, the reader is bound to resort to his imagination in order to reach the meaning of the word.

“My view is to freely exit the graphic structure of the Arab letters or the verb syntax and the structure of the style. It is because I believe that the final objective is a work of art which materials are meaning loaded symbols. I have tried to extract the original signification power of these materials in order to achieve an aesthetic of form. I hope the reader does not remain confined to the visual content but that he rather journeys through a prose in process.”


Visualisation of the KAUST Mosque by night.


The screens cast intricate patterns in the Mosque’s interior.

One Response to “KAUST Mosque Screen | Nja Mahdaoui”

  1. […] LOCATION Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia ARTISTS Carsten Höller, Sopheap Pich, Donna Marcus, Nja Madhaoui, Oliver van den Berg, Dennis Nona, Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle, Subodh Kerkar,  Dalziel & Scullion, […]

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