• International Modern & Contemp auction at Christies

    Sale 7893

    International Modern & Contemporary Art, Including Masterpieces from The Collection of Dr. Mohammed Said Farsi

    27 April 2010, Jumeirah Emirates Towers Hotel

  • Lot 103

    Ayman Baalbaki (Lebanese, b. 1975)

    Holiday Inn Hotel 'Seeking The Heights'

    Price Realised  


    Ayman Baalbaki (Lebanese, b. 1975)
    Holiday Inn Hotel 'Seeking The Heights'
    signed in Arabic and dated '10' (lower left)
    oil on upholstery printed fabric with copper sheet mounted on glass over light box
    Upper panel: 62½ x 78½in. (159 x 199cm.) Lower panel: 12 x 78½in. (30 x 199cm.); Overall 74½ x 78½in. (189 x 199cm.)
    Executed in 2010

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    This painting represents the shelled-out hulk of the former Holiday Inn Hotel in Beirut, which still blights its skyline after decades of lying vacant. The Arabic inscription below tranlates as "Seeking the Heights". During the long civil war in Lebanon all of the fighting militias sought to control this tall building as it occupies the most strategic site in downtown Beirut. Those who controlled the tower controlled the central area and thus the overall situation.
    There is an ironic hint of romance to the title. It seems almost as if taken from an Egyptian film, caricaturizing the absurdity of war and the struggle for power even at the expense of death and destruction. Many of the old Egyptian films used to be filmed in the legendary Beirut hotels such as the Holiday Inn, the Phoenicia, the Carlton and the Saint Georges- all symbols of the rich and famous. Thus this work plays on both the glorious past and the decayed present.

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