Ayman Baalbaki (1975)

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Ayman Baalbaki was born in 1975 in Odeisse, South Lebanon. As a child growing up during the Lebanese civil war and Israeli occupation, he was forced to leave his village and relocate to Beirut. He moved to the neighborhood of Wadi Abu Jamil, which he has described in interviews as an overcrowded, forced melting pot of people from different ethnic, religious and cultural backgrounds. Now located in the exclusive Downtown district, during the war, the area was a refuge for the displaced.

His background and childhood have greatly influenced Baalbaki’s work as an artist over the past 10 years. As a result, many of his paintings feature aspects of his life as a refugee in Beirut or reconstruction efforts in the city in the post-war era. “The Lebanese don’t want to address the issue of the war,” he says, “but at the same time it’s everywhere. I am part of a generation of artists and writers who lived 20 years of it and don’t have anything to say but about the war.”

Today, Baalbaki lives in Beirut after having returned from an extended stay in Paris, where he is pursuing his doctorate degree. His work is increasingly gaining recognition, with his most recent exhibition garnering positive reviews from the media. The local English daily, The Daily Star, stated: “For all the biographical content of Baalbaki’s paintings, what makes his current exhibition work – and work well – is the extent to which he goes beyond himself in his art. His studies of the kaffiyeh, the army helmet and the hood are both probing and relevant. His depictions of the Tower of Babel place him squarely in the art historical lineage of Pieter Brueghel the Elder.”

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