‘Black Rock’ by Said Baalbaki at the Upper Gallery at Saleh Barakat Gallery

Coal, 20 x 16 x 19 cm, ‘Black Rock’ Said Baalbaki, The Upper Gallery, Saleh Barakat Gallery

The Upper Gallery at Saleh Barakat Gallery presents ‘Black Rock’ a solo show by Said Baalbaki running from August 3rd until September 2nd. The Upper Gallery presents a continuous series of rotating displays and small-scale exhibitions. Its program aims to highlight experimental and smaller-scale projects, as well as shed light on overlooked practices in the realm of modern and contemporary art.

On display are Baalbaki’s sculptures made of ordinary coal from Indonesia, evoking a dense and mute softness. These coal structures, resembling neo-classical architecture, carry a sense of nostalgia for an ageing world. The material itself captivates with its appearance and reminds Baalbaki of childhood play and building blocks. Through playful exploration, he transforms the coal into adult-like edifices of temples, churches, mosques, museums, and banks. The sculptures reflect a work of faith and instinct, reaching for a connection beyond explanation. In the soft, scarce, and symbolic nature of coal, there lies a contemplative reflection on our deepest needs and desires. The Upper Gallery, showcasing experimental and overlooked practices, displays these silent and dense coal structures alongside rotating exhibitions.

‘I am arrested by softness, the softness of the coal. The edges, corners, planes, melt before my eyes. This is not a silky softness, like a child (we will return to the child) but a softness that is dense, wild, and somehow mute, refuses speech, sound. It is a barrier to sound, this material.’

‘Black Rock’ Said Baalbaki, The Upper Gallery, Saleh Barakat Gallery

About Said Baalbaki

Born in 1974 in Beirut, Said Baalbaki is an artist who currently resides and works between Beirut and Berlin. In 2005, he received the Meisterschülerpreis des Präsidenten (President’s Prize) from the UDK (Berlin University of Fine Arts). Throughout his career since 1998, he has exhibited his art in various cities, including Berlin, London, New York, Doha, Dubai, Paris, Brussels, and his hometown Beirut.

Baalbaki’s paintings serve as a tool for exploration, delving into hidden layers of memory. As someone familiar with the impact of war from an early age, his art becomes a form of archaeological excavation into memory and history. He views art as a means to erect a barrier against the brutality of history and reclaim his personal narrative, demanding a self-determined biography. This intricate process of unearthing memories is mirrored in his artistic technique, where multiple layers of colours and motifs applied meticulously to the medium create a conceptual dimension akin to archaeological discovery.

Location: The Upper Gallery, Saleh Barakat Gallery, Clemenceau, Beirut

Date: 3 August – 2 September 2023



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