Defying Normality

Canvas Magazine - Samah Hijawi - 2007

The experience brought about many questions and led to a period of self-doubt. “I was well informed about the tradition of painting – its history and its development as a process through time,” He says. “Yet I was unable to understand why I had reached this feeling of dissatisfaction with the works I produced.”

A book of wrong numbers - calculations - oil on canvas

The emptiness lasted almost two years during which Nedim experimented with a variety of media art, photography and video, to architectural drawings and even online diaries. One of these productions entitled ‘Electro I’ (2006), is a video work series in sequence of indecent chapters (as a book might be divided) to be screened consecutively, but with no conclusion. The work explores the banal in the day-to-day existence of the contemporary Arab citizen, as seen through the artist’s apparently pointless activities of reading. Burning paper and resting his head on a pile of books. Filmed in black and white, the work is short within the frame of bottle, thus playing upon the phrase ‘message in a bottle’.

daftar Project / KW / Berlin

Here, Nedim want to communicate with the viewer about the absurdity of normality as pursued under the current political state of affairs. The audience feels as if they are peeling into a private activity or as if witnessing the scene through a keyhole that invokes a distance from the work, adding a sense of absurdity.

Nedim’s works investigating the notion of the book, scripture, writing and keeping diaries. This is also seen in his work “Daftar” , an online diary in Arabic that was created in collaboration with several fellow Iraqi artists. The collected writings from an essay of cultural experiences. When asked what the book means to him, Nedim explains, “The book is treasure in Arab heritage.

'Naqd' Arabic word between Cash and critic / mixed media 2007

ِDeparture moment by sky of Iraq 1990

Time off from the practice of painting led Nedim to approach the two-dimensional surface and its subject matter in a very different light. “The painting as a single scene- a moment in the time line of a story – could be a conscious choice or an entirely accidental one, where the artist is usually convinced that this particular scene says it all. “These ideas led Nedim to ask, “Where is the rest of the film?”

World Map - Charcoal on canvas 2007

Through his studies of architecture, he says “I found new elements to explore; the element of space and its effect on the audience and perspective of the artwork.” These ideas helped him establish a new direction and technique that is so evident in his more recent painting.

Spatial Awareness

His latest exhibition 2007 entitled ‘Makhtota’ (Manuscript) at Lines Gallery in Amman, Jordan, features a collection of works that represent the book through its different functionalities: as a passport, diray, account or a novel. The paintings – created using a variety of materials including photography. cloth, and dried flowers-make reference to the book as an idea memories, an identification tool and a financial record.

The works delicately an array of techniques and materials, creating a layered transparency that transforms Nedim’s practice from conventional tow-dimensional expression into a three dimensional world that the revels in a sense of space. Amid such freedom, the audience is invalid to interpret the ‘Book’ as they please. Every piece allows room for suggestion and participation. Nedim finds it important to break the fear factor between the viewer and his artwork.