There is one fundamental question which pervades the entirety of Oussama Baalbaki’s work to date: what is the place of painting after photography? Baalbaki’s paintings are expressionistic in tone, but they tend toward the mimetic. To represent reality today, he paints with the recognition of the technologically reproducible, mediated image. If photography attempts to capture the perpetually fleeting present – to embalm reality – painting stretches its duration so as to free it from the constraints of historical time.
Baalbaki revisits the classical genres of landscapes and portraits. His modern predecessors painted portraits of the members of the elite, and, though varying in style and approach, they produced landscapes which were largely topographical. Baalbaki inscribes his encounters of the contemporary world into the traditional form of painting, but playfully shifts the genres’
Baalbaki represents only fragments of a social reality. The largest of his landscapes, The Light Parade, is made up of two smaller canvases. Each can be read as a single and complete work, but together they form a panorama. The break between the two canvases emphasizes the slight discontinuity in the surface. Baalbaki distrusts the total image. Though his work tends toward a kind of realism, he is suspicious of a universalized truth.
Born in Lebanon, 1978. He attended the Lebanese University School of fine art, and has held in Beirut, where he lives and work, several solo exhibitions: “Paintings in Black” in 2004 at Dar El Nadwa, “Scenes of Isolation” in 2007 at Safana Gallery, “Less smoke, and more…” in 2009 at Agial Art Gallery, “Rituals of Isolation” in 2011 at Agial Art Gallery and “Shadows of Gloominess” in 2014, hosted by Tanit Gallery, with the collaboration of Agial Art Gallery, followed in 2016 by the “Spectres of the Real” at Agial Gallery.