Ayman Baalbaki (Lebanon, born 1975) American Embassy

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Lot 22
Ayman Baalbaki
(Lebanon, born 1975)
American Embassy
£ 70,000 - 100,000
US$ 91,000 - 130,000

Lot Details
Ayman Baalbaki (Lebanon, born 1975)
American Embassy
acrylic and fabric on canvas, framed
executed in 2011
205.5 x 155cm (80 7/8 x 61in).

Footnotes

  • Provenance:
    Property from a private collection, London

    Literature:
    Rose Issa Projects, Beyond Art Production, Ayman Baalbaki; Beirut Again and Again, illustrated in colour on page 7

    Exhibited:
    Rose Issa Projects, What Remains - PART III, 11 Nov -19 Dec 2014, London

    "My work is built partly on my personal experience, and partly on the Lebanese collective memory. The political establishment has tried to erase everything related to the war.. the problem lies also in the people who participate in this camouflage" - Ayman Baalbaki

    Baalbaki's hauntingly beautiful American Embassy portrays the American flag standing erect in perfect condition against the backdrop of the American Embassy in Beirut that was bombed on April 18th 1983 during the 1975-1990 civil war. A total of 63 people were killed in this suicide bombing; 32 Lebanese employees, 17 Americans and 14 visitors and passer-by. The years 1975 to 1990 were a time of sectarian strife, killings and kidnappings; whole neighborhoods were destroyed and communities uprooted.

    Born in 1975, the year of the outbreak of the Lebanese Civil War, Baalkabi and his family were forced to flee Rass-el Dikweneh, in the suburbs of Beirut when he was only a few months old. War loomed over Baalbaki's head throughout his life, with his home in Haret Hreik being demolished during the 2006 Israeli attacks. When it came to approaching his art practice Baalbaki naturally drew from the deep reservoir of memory formed by these traumatic and disturbing experiences. Baalbaki gathered documentary and archival material, his own photographs and images from the internet of war and destruction. These variations inspired him to approach his subject from different angles.

    Executed in a scale which captures both the architectural enormity of the building depicted, and the severity of the damage it suffered, this painting is a striking vignette of a city whose urban landscape has been punctured and mutilated by the war. Baalbaki's work pays tribute to the traumatic recent history his countrymen have endured by frequently returning to iconic imagery. These scenes Baalbaki captures are dramatic yet the floral textile backgrounds provide a deliberate softening effect, a feminine touch that recalls the dresses worn by rural women in Southern Lebanon.

    Concerned with the relationship between imagery and memory, figuration and abstraction, Baalbaki uses his practice as a haunting aide-memoire to the conflict that has plagued Beirut, reminding people that even in times of relative peace, they should not disregard the deep systemic divisions that gave rise to this conflict in the first place. His 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 and displacement.
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