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Lot title: City Limits (Am Stadtrand)

Lot description:

Oil on canvas
195 x 300 cm (76.77 x 118.11 in.)
Executed in 2008
Signed ‘Baal 08’ on the lower right
The painting is signed ‘Baal,’ titled ‘Am Stadtrand’ and dated ‘Berlin 08’ on the reverse

 Provenance:   The artist’s studio


Still life: Wilde Gallery, Berlin (solo), 2008
Querschlaege: Klasse Burkhard Held, Schloss Oberhausen (group), 2009
Zimmer mit Aussicht: Gallery Michael Schultz, Berlin (group), 2009
A Heap of Broken Images: Dome City Center, Solidere, 8 October-1 November 2009 (the painting is printed, large detail, on the cover page of the exhibition catalog and on p.9-10, with a corresponding text by Christian Malycha on p.8) ( Download catalog )



Artwork note:

“I will show you fear in a handful of dust … and hope in a handful of paint.’ This is the last sentence in Christian Malycha’s introductory text on Said Baalbaki’s work in the exhibition catalog for the ‘A Heap of Broken Images’ exhibition.

Echoing Baalbaki’s other recent works that envision a grim near future, City Limits is apocalyptic, illustrating an impending universal ruin that may see the downfall of humankind. The tendency towards art that fantasizes about a world void of human life, and by consequence a world outside history, is one that suggests a change in our relationship with the here and now.

The subject of the painting is a fragment of colors depicting a mass of familiar objects left behind, like trunks, bundles and a radio, all of which overwhelm a tiny boat ready to take the viewer away. The message behind the painting is thus corrosive, and is underlined by Baalbaki’s painting method, central to which are the twin processes of obliteration and erasure. He first outlines the image then wipes part of it away or paints over it. The technique, derived from the layering of marks in abstract expressionism, is used by Baalbaki to give a blurring effect and engulf the subject with a halo of mystery.


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