Canvas Magazine - Samah Hijawi - 2007

From the heart of Iraq to the heart of Europe, Nedim has lived an extraordinary life of suffering and isolation. Adventures in mixed media-from paper and flowers to earth and terracotta – have helped him create muddy expressions of thought that straddle the disciplines of printing, print making and design. Drawing on the Islamic tradition of repetition and patterning, Kufi is a virtuoso of improvisation and experimentation.

diptych of Nedim as solder and other as Painter 1985

Hanging in limbo between East and West, Nadim’s life has been moulded by modern-day politics. Born in Iraq, he studied printmaking and sculpture in Bagdad. Following university, he was conscripted into Iraqi military for the war. Held in the grip of the Baath party, the Iraqi people stared death in the face and those under the slightest suspicion would instantly be shot. “Even sketching and drawing was considered a betrayal to the party” Nedim says.

“I was afraid to draw or paint when I was a soldier in the dirty war of 80s between Iraq and Iran. I did only small sketches in secret because it was considered forbid. I painted landscapes of the places that take me away from the reality of the war.”

the fish and the fisher searching each other. 2021

The pain of such conflict later became one of the main elements in his work. Nedim was never able to realise his creative projects in his homeland. After the war, the artist escaped, leaving his family behind, in search of a life in Europe with the stability and security he yearned for. Having eventually obtained Dutch citizenship, Nedim continued his studies in Graphic Design and multimedia at the HKU in Utrecht city. During his studies his tutors encouraged him to experiment with digital technology and combine it with his fine Art education. When asked how his life has impacted on his identity and sense of belonging so far, kufi explain the differentials he faces lot of problems.

ِTerracotta of land art project 20x20cm 1996 EKWC Netherland

Yet I feel it is important to come back. "Kufi describes The Netherlands as his studio, as a space to create his work; everything is dependable." I know what time the bus arrives. I know where to find the materials I need. when I wake up everything is where it was yesterday. A spiritual artist, Nedim works from a deeply rooted bond with his work; and the materials he uses are a fundamental part of the artistic process. His works range from organic henna, handmade paper – which he produces himself – as well as new media such as video, animation and installation. His pieces explore a number of ideas mostly linked to personal experience.

Walking on the moon / 180 x160 / soap on wood

"Pain-ting" how Nedim relates pain to painting

Traditionally a tow-dimensional artist, Nedim expresses a long and turbulent rapport with painting; one that is connected to his experience during "the Iran-Iraq war" when death constantly lurked in the shadows. During that time, he questioned the relationship between Art and Pain. Thoughtfully, Nedim identifies the painful experience with painting; (“Pain-ting”) being one. In that “pain” is one of the main elements used in creating a painting. it is a rich element that has many facets and adds a different dimension to the work, he explain.Nedim reached saturation point with painting. “Creating a painting just wasn’t satisfying anymore,” he recalls. “I tried a lot of thinking; I painted smaller and then larger works, changed subject matter, but still I felt frustrated”. So Nedim decided it was time for a change. “When one expects what will happen, one falls into the trap of repetition.

“The duality of an inherited Arab identity and a life in the ‘West’ is an existence I fear. I fear that the temptation of the West will drown me. Nonetheless, the magic of the Arab world pulls me back all the time”.

Bgadad old map