Located in Saudi Arabia’s eastern province of Dhahran is Ithra, also known as the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture. This stunning space is today home to “Source of Light,” a new artwork specially-commissioned for the center by Italian artist Giuseppe Penone. According to Harper’s Bazaar, the installation stands over 90 feet tall and marks the symbolic location near where the Kingdom first discovered oil in 1938.
Penone is known for his large-scale sculptures of trees that explore the link between man and the natural world, and “Source of Light” is no different, comprising three towering bronze trees. Speaking to the site, Penone said, “Source of Light emphasizes and represents the energy extracted from the earth that helps life and growth […] It symbolizes the Source, where oil needed for the growth and development of the world's economy was discovered. It celebrates with its own form and materials, including the gold that covers the central tree’s inner surface, the elevation of life.”
As reported by the site, Director of Ithra Ali Al-Mutairi also talked about what is to date the largest permanent art commission at Ithra, saying, “In our quest to foster cross-cultural exchange, this work offers visitors a unique and tangible example of global artistic expression. With the Source, Penone has synthesized memory and nature in dialogue with architecture to inspire our consideration of what has yet to be discovered.”
Nominated by TIME Magazine in 2018 as one of the world’s 100 best places to visit, Ithra was under construction for 10 years and finally opened its doors to the general public in 2018. It comprises 100,000 square meters of cultural facilities, including: a 200,000-book library; a 930-seat auditorium; a smaller auditorium for a cinema; the Idea Lab offering design exhibitions and workshops; Knowledge Tower, a multi-room venue; a museum; and archives.