Ayman Baalbaki (Lebanon, born 1975) Untitled (Loss and Destruction)

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Lot 66* TP
Ayman Baalbaki
(Lebanon, born 1975)
Untitled (Loss and Destruction)

Sold for £ 75,250 (US$ 102,977) inc. premium
Ayman Baalbaki (Lebanon, born 1975)
Untitled (Loss and Destruction)
acrylic and mixed media on canvas, framed
signed in Arabic and dated "2010" on the verso, executed in 2010
200 x 150cm (78 3/4 x 59 1/16in).


  • Provenance:
    Property from a private collection, Dubai
    Christie's, Modern & Contemporary Art, October 2015, lot 107
    Luce Gallery, Ciel Chargé de Fleurs, Turin, 2010
    Rose Issa Projects, Ciel Chargé de Fleurs, London, 2009

    'I have a temper. It doesn't always show but in some situations my temper flares up. It was war and displacement that made me tough. I developed an aggressive and defensive force in me... but the violence I have witnessed was translated into painting,' – Ayman Baalbaki

    Ayman Baalbaki's inimitable depictions of war-torn Beirut are a visceral, aesthetically overpowering testament to the destructive power of conflict, a destruction whose genesis, whilst physical, infiltrates, scars and distorts the collective consciousness of its sufferers.

    Baalbaki's fixation with conflict is manifest throughout his life and work. Born in 1975, the year of the outbreak of the Lebanese Civil War, his family were forced to flee Rass-el Dikweneh when he was only a few months old. When it came to approaching his work as a painter Baalbaki naturally drew from the deep reservoir of memory formed by these disturbing experiences.

    Concerned with the link between imagery and memory, Baalbaki uses his art as a haunting aide-memoire to the conflict that has plagued Beirut, reminding people that even in times of relative piece, they should not disregard the deep systemic divisions that gave rise to conflict in the first place. Baalbaki explains that this conceptual initiative is "based on what Nietzsche called the "imposition of memory. After the war, whoever had experienced it, tried to erase its effects and impact from his/her memory and surroundings, although the causes of war and its essence [were] still present in the city".

    In light of this overarching agenda, Baalbaki's works accordingly focus on the aftermath of conflict, and the remnants of its destructive influence. The gap between the act of destruction and the time of depiction, which Baalbaki's works occupy, is part of a concerted effort to place a reflective emphasis on the theme of war; it is seldom in the eye of the storm where one can truly measure, discern and recognize the effects of destruction, it is only when the impact of war breaches the heat of the battle, permeating into the visual, emotional and psychological landscape that its true imprint becomes manifest.

    The medium through which this imprint is made palpable by Baalbaki, is through the depiction of Beirut's war torn buildings; these buildings, like the individuals they contained, are perhaps some of the city's most important inhabitants, they are the edifices that signify identity, civilization, the existence of families and homes, they are the structures which give shelter, congregation, life, and industry to a population, they are the building blocks of the communities they house, and it is through their facades that the culture, history and collective narrative of their inhabitants are most immediately recognized.

    It is these buildings which therefore wear most overtly the wounds of war, and whilst the human impact of conflict lives within the hearts of those who have survived it, and through the memories of those who have the fallen, the visual insignia of conflict is most tangible in the fragmentation of the civic space.

    It is this fragmentation which Baalbaki seeks to document, reflect on, and ultimately immortalise in his canvases. Executed in a scale which captures both the architectural enormity of the buildings depicted, and the severity of the damage they have suffered, Baalbaki's paintings are striking vignettes of a city whose urban fabric has been punctured and mutilated.

    Monumental yet deeply personal, vigorous yet unsettlingly brooding, Baalbaki's building is rendered with both a stark brutality and delicate pathos, harnessing both its nurturing and destructive qualities, pointing to its emotionally paradoxical role in Lebanese life; as both part of the city built as a place of shelter, yet at the same time a scene of its greatest tragedies. The tension between these two elements, rendered as it is in monumental format, make this one of Baalbakis most emotive and compelling artworks
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