Wael Shawky (Alexandria, Egypt, 1971) studied at the University of Alexandria before pursuing a MFA at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, United States.
Wael Shawky's work originates from research and travels taken by the artist in his native country and embraces the most diverse techniques and media: from drawing to sculpture, but mainly film, performance and storytelling.
In the artist's poetics, these techniques are often combined to create a fairy-tale yet real universe in which elements of traditional Arabic culture and contemporary images coexist: with a fixed eye on today's events, the artist undertakes a re-reading of the cultural, religious and artistic characteristics of Middle Eastern history, creating other and fantastic realities that live and thrive in imaginary places.
Famous is his film trilogy Cabaret Crusades - The Horror Show File (2010), The Path to Cairo (2012) and The Secrets of Karbala (2015) - in which ancient puppets and marionettes become the protagonists of the historical medieval crusades, narrated by the artist with the eyes of the Arab world and the playful lightness of a children's fable.
Important solo exhibitions have been dedicated to the artist by museums and international institutions including ARoS Museum, Aarhus, Denmark; Castello di Rivoli Museo d'Arte Contemporanea, Rivoli, Italy; Kunsthalle Bregenz, Bregenz, Austria; Fondazione Merz, Turin, Italy; Mathaf, Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha; MoMA PS1, New York, USA; MACBA, Barcelona, Spain; K20, Beirut, Lebanon; Sharjah Art Foundation, Sharjah, UAE; The Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, USA; Kunst-Werke, Berlin, Germany; Cittadellarte-Fondazione Pistoletto, Biella, Italy; Kunsthalle Winterthur, Switzerland. His works are part of permanent collections of museums such as Tate Modern, MoMA, MACRO, Mart, The Met, APT Dubai.