Ayman Baalbaki (Lebanese, B. 1975)
Ayman Baalbaki (Lebanese, B. 1975)

Let A Thousand Flowers Bloom

Details
Ayman Baalbaki (Lebanese, B. 1975)
Let A Thousand Flowers Bloom
signed and dated in Arabic (lower left); signed, dated and titled in Arabic (on the reverse)
oil on upholstery printed fabric with copper sheet mounted on glass over light box
91¾ x 61¾ x 2 7/8in. (233 x 157 x 7cm.)
Executed in 2011

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Bibi Naz Zavieh
Bibi Naz Zavieh

Lot Essay

Let a thousand flowers bloom is the title of Ayman Baalbaki's work based on the widely common misquotation of Mao Zedong's "Let a hundred flowers blossom".

In the sixties and seventies of the past century, leftist and nationalistic Arab parties used this slogan both in Lebanon and in the Arab world, cutting it from its original context and meaning to become a promotion of a new spring and hope.

The full quotation, taken from a speech of Mao's in 1957, is: "Letting a hundred flowers blossom and a hundred schools of thought contend is the policy for promoting progress in the arts and the sciences and a flourishing socialist culture in our land."

The work is based on multi visual forms; the political leftist poster, the graves' of Lebanese martyrs, (containing a portrait of the dead in a glass box, lit and surrounded with artificial flowers, and sometimes having small personal belongings of the deceased), that are influenced by the Iranian Revolution. Baalbaki's painting intersects also with Gustav Klimt's Pallas Athene (1898) and Judith I (1901). The prominent use of gold can first be traced back to both of these paintings, where the painted figures are executed in a heroic aspect.
The importance of all these mistaken, erroneous givens that are seized from several revolutions, thoughts and visual sources, whilst restructuring them in a new form, as is portrayed in the case of Baalbaki's Let a thousand flowers bloom.

Despite the fact that the painting was produced before the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions, the work might nonetheless be a prediction of the symbols held for them, titled under the names of flowers, Jasmine and Lotus. (Ayman Baalbaki)
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