Hi NIMI, great to meet you. Where are you from? You’re now living in Bergen (Norway), can you tell us a bit more about that?
Hi Laurent, wonderful to hear from you. I’m originally from Johannesburg, SA. My family are South African Indians, who lived all over the Southern region, so I travelled a lot as a child. I left SA in 1977 and moved to an area near North East London with my Mother, stepfather and my sisters.
I moved to Norway in the late 90’s and moved to Bergen in 2000. I live there with my wife and children. I love this city.
How did it all start? (when you were a kid? At school? later?)
I would say it all started when myself and 2 friends discovered Hip hop in 84, we were blinded by the whole scene. Our first visits to the Electric Ballroom in Camden, they had a club for break dancers and DJs every Saturday.
I was hooked by the whole scene, it became the centre of our little universe, breaking, rapping, graffiti and djing – the 4 elements that changed a generation, we had a voice and a natural rhythm that became our own signature. The scene back then took off and became a staple for most teenagers, looking to change their life.
The art came when I was 14, we showed our art teacher what we did, he just agreed and let us pursue it in school. He loved the fact we had found something that inspired us, the same can be said for the dancing and music, our teachers saw what we had achieved in such a short time and backed us up, we were very blessed.
At least 5 or 6 of the guys I began with, still hold true to the scene and pursued it as a career. Fun times and lots of positive people. Colt 45, Gnasher, Fuge, BEN and Hebron, AKA KANZ, a legend who died too young.
Nihal rapped for a while and with Colt 45 as DJ, amazing stuff, but later moved into radio and TV. Some are still breaking, even in their late 40’s, impressive really, I wish we had taken more photos but I’m not very good at that even today.
What are you main sources of inspiration?
What I think inspires the work I believe, is a need to keep the mind in play, activated if you like, a self-awareness that we are all just trying to get along while being told we are indifferent to each other, I feel I have to prove how alike we truly are. When you’re young your impetus lays in the ego, your name is the driving force and your reputation is all you have, aesthetics and form are the key elements charging your decisions.
As I’ve grown I have worked with design and studied architecture, this broadened my toolset and allowed me to engage my work with a clearer philosophy.
Community building and the inclusion of urban planning suit my type of mind and work ethic.
I find listening, helps clarify the decisions made by the endless search for language within the pieces I create. Often the continual search for inspiration could come from recent news, old photos, my family, historical characters, people I talk to too, young and old, books I’ve read or am reading even film and television are a resource, but experience and the will to challenge your limits help to fever the drive. Staying open-minded and knowing you’re just learning are key to keeping the work fresh and untamed
Are you only painting murals ?
I have really only worked with Murals in the last few years. I don’t mind the work as it’s another way of expressing oneself but knowing who and what you’re doing it for are always a challenge, I make my bread as an artist and at times you have to be able to say no, if the work is stopping your development, then I would say it’s the wrong gig.
I enjoy getting out with my mates when I can putting up illegal work or just helping out others, its where you get the head rush and the most joy.
Which is your favourite mural that you’ve created?
If I was to pick a favourite mural, I would say the Traveller, I created it in Stavanger for Nuart, I’ve been lucky to have been invited to the NUART festival in both Stavanger and recently in Aberdeen, the level of artists are inspiring, the last street I did was the most intimidating, Bordalo II (PT), Ernest Zacharevic (LT) Milu Correch (AR), you just have to step back and smile, there dedication and quality of work leave you breathless and inspired to keep moving.
Is there a dream place worldwide where you would like to create an artwork?
If i could pick a dream place to paint, i would say anywhere i had a whole week to paint, i know it sounds funny but when you have a young family, time off is a luxury, i have not had more than 5 days on any wall, so I’d like to see what would happen, location wise, places I’ve never painted Brazil, Japan, India and of course South Africa.
Do you have any future plans that you would be prepared to share with the readers of Streetart360?
Well, plans for the future what can i say, hope to keep my practice alive, I’m trying to do some gallery work, I have started a process to create a location for just street art in Bergen, with studios, gallery space, residences etc. I will be involved in 3 new festivals in the next year, i do hope they will be an inspiration to others, I am now working with my local community with a bridging project, using Street art as a means of communication for integration between different cultures. I hope to travel a bit more but family first for the next couple of years, so some small trips to London and Barcelona later this year, I guess I’m always open to new ideas and collaborations in and outside Norway.
“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right-doing there is a wall.
I’ll meet you there”.
RUMI and NIMI.
More about NIMI
Photos by courtesy of NIMI and Brian Tallman (Official photographer Nuart Stavanger, Aberdeen)