Saleh Barakat Gallery invites you to a retrospective of Abdel Hamid Baalbaki’s work. The opening night will coincide with the book launch of a monograph on the artist by Gregory Buchakjian.
The retrospective showcases Abdel Hamid Baalbaki’s oeuvre from his early years as a student at the Lebanese University’s Institute of Fine Arts until his last paintings of the mid 2000s. As an artist whose practice developed during the years of the war, Baalbaki was concerned with how to represent his reality. He rejected the aestheticism of many of his peers, and refused to participate in the art salons of his time in resistance of art’s commodification. He sought a critical form of realism to address the everyday in his region of Jabal Amel in the Lebanese South. Inspired by the Mexican muralists’ engagement with socialist realism, he produced “murals”, but on the portable medium of canvas. Towards the end of his life, he began to paint landscapes as a way to confront the rise of ecological disaster, as well as the political desolation that accompanied the emergence of the new world order.
Abdel Hamid Baalbaki (1940-2013) was an artist whose practice spanned painting, sculpture, fiction, and poetry. He graduated with a degree in Fine Arts from the Lebanese University’s Institute of Fine Arts in 1971, and pursued advanced studies in Paris. He returned to the Lebanese University to teach in 1974, where he remained a professor until 2004. He published three books of poetry, and two of prose. He also
17 November - 30 December, 2017
31 October - 25 November, 2017
Text By Natasha Gasparian
Hala Ezzeddine paints portraits of individual children she has come to know and teach in her hometown of Arsal in the Bekaa region of Lebanon. A majority of her students are refugees who have fled across the border with the eruption of the Syrian war. Rather than studies of isolated personages, she frames her figures within a desolate landscape. On one hand, the relationship between the human figure and nature is maintained by a distinction between foreground and background, but on another, the landscape looms into the foreground and engulfs the figure. Her brushstrokes gesture toward a total abstraction, cutting through the figure and melting it into the textual flatness of the canvas. However, the figure remains prominent in the center of the painting. Out of the fusion of 19th century realism and mid-20th century high modernism, Ezzeddine paints a nature which is subject to the material conditions brought about by human activity – she paints a nature which belongs entirely to our contemporary world.
Hala Ezzeddine (b. 1989, Arsal) received both Bachelor and Master degrees in fine arts from the Fine Arts Institute at the Lebanese University, in 2009 and 2014 respectively. She has participated in an exhibition of silkscreens at the Unesco Palace in Beirut (2008), and in an exhibition organized by Talia’s Charity (2011). She taught painting classes for Lebanese and Syrian students at the public secondary school of Arsal (2011-2016). She is the recipient of the Boghossian prize for Painting (2015) and the Génération Orient prize (2016).