News Register for our weekly news digest here.

Serwan Baran, Untitled, 2014.
Serwan Baran, Untitled, 2014.

Serwan Baran to Represent Iraq at 2019 Venice Biennale

The Ruya Foundation has announced that Iraqi Kurdish artist Serwan Baran will represent Iraq at the Fifty-Eighth Venice Biennale, which will be held from May 11 to November 24, 2019. This is the fourth year that the foundation has commissioned the country’s national pavilion, which will be curated by Tamara Chalabi and Paolo Colombo.

Born in Baghdad in 1968, Baran has lived through over forty years of war in his country and was conscripted during conflicts in the 1980s and 1990s. Drawing from his time in the service, he present large-scale, site-specific work for “Fatherland,” which will “invoke the feeling of a war zone upon entering” the pavilion. The exhibition will feature a monumental acrylic painting, depicting a bird’s-eye view of soldiers killed while eating during their last meal, as well as objects from the Iran-Iraq War, the second Gulf War, and the war with ISIS that were given to the artist by families of deceased soldiers.

“It is an important development for this pavilion to have a solo artist represent Iraq for the first time,” Chalabi, chair and cofounder of the Ruya Foundation, said in a statement. “Serwan Baran’s work is fitting artistically, both as a deeply personal testimony of his own experiences and a universal commentary on the condition of mankind. I am pleased to also be sharing his singular expressionist style as a painter, in a medium that has great significance within the history of modern Iraqi art.”