Saudi artist Muhannad Shono exhibits at the Venice Biennale

This is the third time that a Saudi artist is taking part… 

Artists from across the world are getting ready to paint the town of Venice, Italy a multitude of colours, as one of the world’s biggest art exhibitions is set to take place. The International Art Exhibition of la Biennale di Venezia, better known as the Venice Biennale, is now in its 59th year and this is the third time that Saudi Arabia is participating in the prestigious event.

The Venice Biennale runs from Saturday April 23 to Sunday November 27, and is welcoming world-class artists. The Riyadh-born artist Muhannad Shono has been selected to represent the country at the National Pavilion of Saudi Arabia. The Teaching Tree, an impressive installation, tackles big themes, from his family’s long history of migration to his childhood memories of growing up in Saudi Arabia.

The curators working with Shono to bring his vision to life are Abu Dhabi-based Reem Fadda and Jeddah-based Rotana Shaker. And the pavilion has been commissioned by the Ministry of Culture’s Visual Arts Commission.


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Shono’s artistic work spans multiple mediums, ranging from futuristic robots to cool comics. A common theme in his work is the questioning of truth and the power of writing as well as drawings.

Soho’s previous work has pushed artistic boundaries, and he sees his nomination as a sign of the country’s ongoing transformation under Saudi Vision 2030.

In 2020 for Desert X AlUla, he designed The Lost Path, a sprawling installation that used a whopping 65,000 recyclable PVC pipes and was a meditation on how treasure maps can lead to empty chests. This year at his AlUla Residency, he created On This Sacred Day, an installation on reclaimed sand that resembles a grave and had smoke coming out of it.

Shono’s work has previously been exhibited in solo exhibitions at galleries including Athr Gallery in Jeddah and the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) in Dammam. Shono has also participated in group exhibitions at The Diriyah Biennale in Riyadh and The British Museum in London.

Other Saudi artists who have flexed their artistic muscles at the Venice Biennale include Zahra Alghamdi in 2019, and Shadia and Raja Alem in 2011.

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