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Sur, Oman. Photo: Mangostar/Wikipedia Commons.
Sur, Oman. Photo: Mangostar/Wikipedia Commons.

Oman National Pavilion to Debut at Venice Biennale

Oman will present its first-ever Venice Biennale national pavilion this spring at the event’s fifty-ninth iteration, taking place April 23–November 27, 2022. Curated by art historian Aisha Stoby, whose area of expertise is the modern art of Oman and the Middle East, the multimedia exhibition will feature the work of five artists spanning three generations: painter Anwar Sonya, known as the godfather of Oman’s contemporary art scene; photographer and abstract artist Hassan Meer, founder of experimental collective the Circle; photographer and videographer Budoor Al Riyami; sculptor and textile artist Radhika Khimji; and the late self-taught installation artist Raiya Al Rawahi (1987­–2017).

Each artist’s oeuvre expresses a different facet of Omani culture. Sonya typically deploys Arabic calligraphy, vibrant hues, and bold strokes in his portrayals of people and landscapes, while Meer’s work focuses on the myths and beliefs common to his native country. Khimji investigates themes of feminism through a practice comprising drawing, collage, sculpture, and installation, and Al Riyami explores the topic of violence via innovative video work. Al Rawahi, who died of cancer at the age of thirty, used sound to question societal norms.

The pavilion is to be located in the Venice Arsenale. It will be sponsored by Oman’s ministry of culture and staged under the supervision of Crown Prince of Oman Sayyid Theyazin bin Haitham Al Sai, the ministry’s chief. A concurrent series of programs organized by the culture ministry will take place in Oman; these will include internships, mentorships, and a lecture series, all aimed at fostering youth participation in the arts and at elevating the country’s contemporary art scene.