01 Painting, Middle East Artists, THE ART OF WAR, Ayman Baalbaki’s Untitled, with Footnotes #85

Henry Zaidan
2 min readMar 3, 2024
Ayman Baalbaki, Lebanon
Untitled, 2011

Medium: Acrylic on canvas
70 x 50 cm

Ayman Baalbaki’s untitled artwork represents a bust view portrait of a fida’i (freedom fighter) wearing a keffiyeh, and a Guy Fawkes mask, set against a colorful background of acrylic in fabric laid on canvas

Painted in Ayman Baalbaki’s signature expressionist style, the thought-provoking composition experiments with the notion of identity. Indeed, the portrayed fighter is anonymous. Conversely, he wears one of the most recognizable masks and scarves in contemporary history. They are iconographic symbols of rebellion. The keffiyeh, historically considered the traditional Palestinian headdress, has become a glorified symbol of Palestinian resistance in Arab culture. Conversely, it has also come to represent Islamic extremism for the West. Similarly, the Guy Fawkes mask grew to represent conflicting values and beliefs. It started with an association to Fawkes’ treason, and through the power of narration, became an international symbol of revolution against injustice. As such the attire of Baalbaki’s figure gives him an instant collective identity, even when his individual one is unknown. More on this painting

Ayman Baalbaki is a Lebanese artist, living and working in Beirut. He studied Fine Arts in Beirut and at the École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Decoratifs in Paris. Born during the Lebanese civil war in the 1970s, Baalbaki draws most of his inspiration from this subject matter. In 2012, Baalbaki was part of the The Future of a Promise at the 54th Venice Biennale: the first pan-Arab exhibition of contemporary art to feature in the festival. This exhibition brought together more than 25 recent works by some foremost artists of the Arab world. His work depicted warriors wearing veils or casks. His paintings often describe the seemingly endless conflicts that haunt the Middle East. More on Ayman Baalbaki

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Henry Zaidan

In my Blog is an Online collection of significant paintings from the 1st century to today; complete with art-history and artist bibliographies.