PROPERTY FROM THE ESTATE OF THE ARTIST, BEIRUT
Aractingi undertook painting at a very young age. His works are often differentiated by his use of unique colour gradations, bold pigments and recurring use of nature. His style is reminiscent to that of Henri Rousseau; however Aractingi’s choice of a rich colour palette remains very distinct and particular to his own individualistic style.
Aractingi’s greatest artistic achievement was painting Jean de la Fontaine's (French, 1621 - 1695) entire collection of 244 fables on individual canvases. He embarked on this mamoth project titled Magnum Opus in January 1989, whilst residing in France. Seven years and 244 canvases later, he completed the ambitious project in 1995 on the 300th anniversary of De La Fontaine’s death. This present work is from Aractingi’s renowned Magnum Opus series, a rare and beautiful depiction of De La Fontaine’s fable of The Wolf and The Lamb.
As with most of Aractingi’s works, upon first impression The Wolf and The Lamb comes across as innocent and playful. The vibrancy of colours in his paintings with which he is praised for, alongside his rich compositions project an element of humour and evoke light-heartedness. Upon further study, the audience can distinguish a clandestine defiance to the innocence depicted. Aractingi’s art is highly symbolic, often making strong references to issues of morality and injustice. The moral of De La Fontaine’s story of The Wolf and The Lamb is that the tyrant can always find a justification for his tyranny and will never acquiesce to the reasoning of the innocent.
Aractingi's works are extensively inspired by fictional stories and fables. He generously provides his audience a gateway into the creases of a fantasy world inhabited by folk creatures and copious animals; all brought to life using his vivid brushstrokes. He continued to paint insistently up until his death in 2003; depicting Antar and Abla, Geha, Tarzan, Adam and Eve, and a plethora of animals throughout his oeuvre, where he skilfully intertwined the worlds of reality and fantasy. Following his death, the artist's family estate donated 230 of his works to the Sursock Museum in Beirut. In 2017, the museum mounted a retrospective curated by Yasmine Chemali who gathered some 120 works under the title Les Mondes de Willy Aractingi. Sotheby's is privileged to be offering this important and rare work from the estate of the artist.
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