Ayman Baalbaki (Lebanese, b. 1975)
This lot has been imported from outside of the UK … Read more
Ayman Baalbaki (Lebanese, b. 1975)

Al Moulatham

Ayman Baalbaki (Lebanese, b. 1975)
Al Moulatham
signed in Arabic; dated '10' (lower right)
acrylic and printed fabric on canvas
78 3/4 x 59in. (200 x 150cm.)
Executed in 2010
Rose Issa Projects, London.
Private Collection.
Private Collection.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
Special notice
This lot has been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.

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Lot Essay

'We create fictional heroes because we need role models, but the face of the Mulatham is as much about defeat and disillusion as about heroism. When I drew my first Mulatham, I did not simply read it as a Palestinian fedae, the Lebanese civil war was on my mind too. There is also confusion about the word fedae and its root, derived from fadi (redeemer or saviour) which is from fada (to sacrifice oneself)...I like the confusion, the challenge, the provocation...Did Jasper Johns encourage imperialism by drawing the American flag? In the same way, I am not glorifying martyrdom.'

(The artist quoted in "Ayman Baalbaki in conversation with Rose Issa, Beirut September 2011" in R. Issa (ed.), Ayman Baalbaki: Beirut Again and Again, London 2011, p. 13).

The present work from Ayman Baalbaki's sought-after Mulatham series is an iconic image of heroism for the artist. These freedom fighters or 'fedayeen', as they are commonly known, occupy an important part of his artistic oeuvre. The artist’s war-stricken childhood during the Lebanese Civil War translates into the portrayal of these deeply personal icons. Flooding his canvases with colour, these emotive portraits result from an unfortunate familiarity with the loss and devastation of war, as he states, 'The chaos of the War allowed us to become ourselves.' (R. Issa, Ayman Baalbaki, Beirut Again and Again, London 2011, p. 16). This empowered subject matter is reflected through the temperament with which he paints. His anger and violence provides the ammunition for a rich artistic departure, influencing both the technique and development of his style.

The scowling veiled man in this work is seen portrayed with an unusual visual paradox. The floral silhouettes which occupy the backdrop around his head are reminiscent of the coloured floral textiles worn by Baalbaki's mother and grandmother. Considering this to be the feminine side of his work, he describes a deeper rooted meaning to their incorporation. 'It is as if the younger generation is unconsciously carrying the new political ideology and erasing the shame associated with their parents' costumes.' (ibid., p.16). It is the numerous dimensions and layers of emotional, political and creative process that form the textured, energetic essence of Ayman Baalbaki's canvases.

Baalbaki has held numerous exhibition, most recently representing Lebanon at the 59th Venice Biennale (2022) in a solo exhibition and in group shows at Venice Biennale in 2013 and 2011. Other shows include Rose Issa, London (2014); Luce Gallery, Turin (2013); and group shows at Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris (2012); Royal College of Art, London (2011); Beirut Exhibition Center (2010); among others.

The artist's work is found in collections such as Dalloul Art Foundation, Beirut; KA Collection, Beirut;
British Museum, UK; Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris; Tate Modern, London; MATHAF: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha; Fondation Carmignac, France; and Farjam Foundation, Dubai

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