'Jourat Al Shiyah, one of the largest areas of the Syrian industrial city of Homs, was in the past a place known for crushing and breaking limestone, burning it and turning into powder. The processing was done using the wild Shiyah plant as a fuel to burn the rock How strange it is to find our destinies in our names and in our history!'
(The artist quoted in 2013).
At the forefront of Arab Contemporary art, the Lebanese artist Ayman Baalbaki is best known for his dramatic and expressionist depictions of his homeland's ravaged landscapes and his striking and iconic portraits of warriors that shed light on the consequences of the Civil War.
For the first time, Baalbaki depicts Jourat Al Shiyah, a popular and industrial district in the Syrian city of Homs, historically known for its limestone powder processing and production, during which the sedimentary rock was crushed, broken and burned. In the recent years as a consequence of the violent conflict and its strategic location, Jourat Al Shiyah has become an unrecognisable war-zone and the city, like the limestone, has in turn been destroyed and shattered.
The present work recalls the dilapidated and destroyed landscapes of Lebanon painted by Baalbaki, but the artist for the first time moves across borders and instead depicts the demolished structures consecutive to the bombings of Homs' occupied districts, leaving intact two columns in the background that are iconic landmarks, reminiscent of the city's peaceful past. With a sharp brush and expressionist splashes of paint, Baalbaki creates a vibrant semi-abstract scenery that hints at the violence and destructive reality of the city today and metaphorically, pays homage to all victims of war, regardless of place and time.