Nadim Karam creates narratives engaging with cities and landscapes through large-scale sculptures. Based on his conviction that cities should dream, Karam’s art practice in the public sphere responds to contemporary challenges, social realities, and eternal quests of identity. His site-specific projects engage in re-examining contextual issues and enhancing perceptions of diversity within society, taking a playful and often absurdist approach even when addressing the most critical issues.
Karam’s formative years in Lebanon and his doctoral studies in Japan are defining influences in his work. Studying under prominent Japanese architects Hiroshi Hara, Fumihiko Maki and Tadao Ando, he approached architecture through philosophies of eastern thought and concepts of space. From his early projects of performance art in Tokyo, he developed a language of forms relating to spaces, memories, and peoples. His public art projects emerged as a natural synthesis of his architectural affinity for urban contexts and his auto-didactic artistic output.
Karam’s work on paper is the source from which his paintings, sculptures and public art grow and evolve. Through his drawings, he processes raw emotions and reflections and filters them through his intuitively whimsical, absurdist approach, generating narratives that connect with territories in the public realm.
Karam’s paintings, on the other hand, are intimate, expressing pathos and anxiety as well as humour through questions about the self, the other, love and death, war and migration.
Karam founded his multi-disciplinary practice, Atelier Hapsitus in Beirut in 1996, which branched to Rotterdam in 2020 as Nadim Karam Studio (NKS). In the last two decades, they have realised numerous major site-specific public art projects around the world, commissioned by cities and institutions. Karam also investigates urban fabric on a mega-scale, investing in the experimental creation of projects that bring dreams to cities, like The Cloud, The Wheels, the Dialogue of the Hills and the Elephant City.
Karam’s paintings and sculptures have been exhibited in galleries, biennales, institutions, and museums. He has held academic positions in Lebanon and Japan, gives lectures internationally, and four monographs on his work have been published by Booth-Clibborn Editions in London. In 2002, Nadim Karam co-chaired the UN/New York University conference in London for the reconstruction of Kabul and was selected as the curator for Lebanon by the first Rotterdam Biennale. He lives and works in Beirut and Rotterdam.
NADIM KARAM STUDIO
Nadim Karam Studio (NKS) is a multi-disciplinary studio focused on re-framing contextual concerns with a global relevance and expressing these through an original urban vocabulary. Founded and led by Nadim Karam, the studio develops and implements large-scale public art installations and exhibitions worldwide. The 25 years old practice is made up of architects, designers, curators, researchers, and administrators working from Beirut and Rotterdam. The uniqueness of their work is derived from the liberty found in art combined with the processes and skills related to the architecture and design disciplines.
The public art projects of NKS develop from artistic conception through cultural, social and historical research, and geographical contextual investigation. The team typically collaborates with engineers, urbanists, landscapers, sustainability consultants, light designers, and historians for the development of their projects. From 1994 to the present, they have realised major temporary large-scale art projects in Prague, Beirut, Dubai and Nara, and permanent projects in Tokyo, Kuwait, Brussels, Yerevan, Suzhou, Al Ula and Melbourne, which was recognised with three Australian awards.