Saudi Arabia will be returning to Biennale Arte this year, making it the third time the Kingdom participates in the International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia. And multidisciplinary visual artist Muhannad Shono has been selected to represent his country at the National Pavilion of Saudi Arabia. The Riyadh-based creative will be working alongside curator Reem Fadda and assistant curator Rotana Shaker during the 59th edition of the event, which is being held between 23 April and 27 November.
Shono is nspired by his childhood memories and his family’s long history of migration. The events that have left an impactful paradox in his work have defined his relationship to space by creating a sense of freedom that traverses cultural elements. This gives him leeway to search through the different concepts, materials and techniques. The artist is known for his versatile and uninhabited stye (in media and form), and his works range from intimate drawings and large-scale sculptural works to robotic and technological pieces.
“I am honoured to represent Saudi Arabia at La Biennale di Venezia, not only as myself but carrying with me the irrepressible creative spirit of Saudi Arabia and to be working with the entire team of the national pavilion,” Shono, who graduated with a degree in Architecture from Dammam’s King Fahad University of Petroleum and Minerals, said.
Fadda has expressed the pride she feels in being able to accompany Shono, who has participated in various solo and group exhibitions at home and abroad. The curator and art historian said he “represents an energetic, progressive, and visionary mindset coming out of Saudi Arabia.” She also said his work ethos and ideas are praiseworthy and his impressive project will definitely mesmerise audiences.
The National Pavilion of Saudi Arabia has been commissioned by the Visual Arts Commission (VAC), which is overseen by the Saudi Ministry of Culture. “Saudi Arabia’s National Pavilion at Biennale Arte 2022 will once again shine a light on the remarkable talent of the creative community within the Kingdom,” Dina Amin, CEO of the VAC, said. “We are delighted to participate in this global cultural dialogue, represented by Muhannad Shono, one of the country’s most exciting artists working today, whose multidisciplinary practice embraces themes central to the world in which we live.”
Amin also said the international crowd at La Biennale di Venezia offers a unique chance to fete the “shared language of creativity and highlight the burgeoning voices emerging from Saudi Arabia.” The Kingdom is going through a bold transformation as part of Vision 2030 and its attendance at Venice reflects its growing presence in international cultural circles. The creative industries are expected to provide an estimated three percent of the Kingdom’s GDP by 2030 and create over 100,000 jobs.
This Year’s Theme
This year’s La Biennale di Venezia is curated by Cecilia Alemani under the theme “The Milk of Dreams.” The inspiration for the theme stemmed from a 1950s children’s book by Surrealist artist Leonora Carrington. The curator has discussed what constitutes life, humans’ responsibilities for the planet, and how a world without humans is imagined with the artists.