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    What Else Can I Do?

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    5.00 (3 votes)
    Contact samhallart@gmail.com
    Added 2017-01-07 21:17:56
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    Acrylic on box canvas. In 1992, when the United Nations, Red Cross, aid agencies and the international press pulled out of Sarajevo because of unacceptable casualties, one man - the New York Times Chief Foreign Correspondent, John F. Burns - decided that he ought to go back because he thought it would be wrong to leave the lawless and dangerous city without an independent witness.

    When Burns arrived back at his office, a small boy came up to him and insisted that he follow. At first Burns protested that he was too busy but the boy was adamant, so Burns followed him. They eventually came to a street scarred by bomb and mortar shell damage in which, sitting on a chair, was a man in full evening dress playing Tomaso Giovanni Albinoni's Adagio in G

    The music was particularly apt as the work was purportedly found amongst the ruins of the old Saxon State Library in Dresden, after it was firebombed by the Allies during World War Two.

    When the cellist had finished playing, Burns asked him who he was. "And why are you playing here?" 

    The cellist explained that he was Vedran Smajlovic,  the lead cellist for the Sarajevo Symphony Orchestra. He added: "Last week, 22 of my fellow countrymen were queuing for bread here and were killed by a mortar shell - and I don't know what else I can do!"

    Born in 1956, Smajlovic was extraordinarily brave.  In honour of the twenty-two men, women and children who died as he watched helplessly, he played in the ruins for 22 days, eventually with army snipers protecting him. Today, he lives a quieter life in Warrenpoint, Ireland.

    I thought the image of that was so powerful that I decided to paint it. But instead of using a Sarajevo background, of which I had no knowledge and would therefore have been dependent on other people’s photographs, I used a background from my own experience - covering the Israeli Siege of Beirut in 1982.

    I remembered the street well - and had one very grainy snapshot. Using that as a rough guide, I painted this picture. It is quite detailed, as you can see - and it took about three weeks of six hour days to paint it.


    Specific details

    Name of Artist Sam Hall
    Country United Kingdom
    Media Acrylic
    Width (inches): 16
    Height (inches): 20
    Painting Genre: Representational: Figurative / Other



    Users' reviews

    What Else Can I Do?

    Well said, well executed. Very powerful piece!

    This piece is very moving. I felt physically sad and almost cried even before I read the captions.

    Just stunning artwork

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