ETEL ADNAN, WRITING MOUNTAINS . Retrospective .

From 14 November 2014 to 8 March 2015 - Museum der Moderne, Salzburg, Austria .

  • Etel Adnan, Rihla ... (Journey to Mount Tamalpais).

    Rihla ila Jabal Tamalpais (Journey to Mount Tamalpais), 2008. Watercolour and indian ink on Japanese book, 30 x 10,5 cm x 54 pages : 30 x 567 cm. Donation Claude & France Lemand. Musée, Institut du monde arabe, Paris. © Etel Adnan. Courtesy Galerie Claude Lemand, Paris.

  • Etel Adnan, The Mountain 2

    The Mountain 2, 2014. Watercolour and indian ink on paper, 52 x 70 cm. © Etel Adnan. Courtesy Galerie Claude Lemand, Paris.

  • Etel Adnan, Landscape.

    Landscape, 2014. Oil on canvas, 32 x 41 cm. Donation Claude & France Lemand. Museum, Institut du monde arabe, Paris. © Etel Adnan. Courtesy Galerie Claude Lemand, Paris.

ETEL ADNAN, WRITING MOUNTAINS . Retrospective, Museum der Moderne Salzburg.

The Museum der Moderne Salzburg, as the first insti­tu­tion in Austria, pre­sents the ver­sa­tile work of writer, poet, artist, and cul­tural jour­nalist Etel Adnan, born 1925 in Beirut (Lebanon). Adnan’s most impor­tant pub­li­ca­tions include Sitt Marie-Rose (1977), The Arab Apocalypse (1980), and Journey to Mount Tamalpais (1986). In 1959, Etel Adnan, then already active as a writer, begins to paint and draw as well; she sub­se­quently expands her cre­ative range by adding accor­dion-fold artist’s books, tapestries, and Super 8 mm films to her reper­toire.

The exhi­bi­tion traces Adnan’s artistic devel­op­ment based on a selec­tion of roughly two hun­dred works and work groups. Adnan’s early color field paint­ings rem­i­nis­cent of archi­tec­ture are often com­pared with the work of Nicolas de Staël while there are also stylistic echoes of works by Paul Cézanne, Paul Klee, and Pablo Picasso. Mount Tamalpais, north of San Francisco, is an impor­tant source of inspi­ra­tion for Adnan. This moun­tain inspires her inves­ti­ga­tions of richly con­trasting colors in vari­a­tions and the limits of abstrac­tion. Adnan’s images thus func­tion as soulscapes within which her poetic lan­guage finds visual cor­re­spon­dence. Through their tran­sient mode of oper­a­tion, Adnan’s works reflect the imme­diacy of her aes­thetic expres­sion. They are studies of colors and forms, and sketches of land­scapes, espe­cially of Mount Tamalpais. Thousands of works thus have been cre­ated over the years, showing the moun­tain in dif­ferent colors, light sit­u­a­tions and times of year and day.

Accordion-fold artist’s books have held a spe­cial posi­tion within her work since 1964. The artist com­bines hand­written poems by con­tem­po­rary Arabic poets with images on Japanese paper folded into book form, like tra­di­tional emaki­monos. Adnan has also designed car­pets and tapestries since the 1950s. She attaches spe­cial impor­tance to making the dynamics of the colors vis­ible, as a ref­er­ence to Wassily Kandinsky. Roughly sev­enty shorts that she shot on Super 8mm film in the 1980s focus on cap­turing her own per­sonal per­cep­tion. She focuses here on the cap­tured light, colors, and move­ment rather than the sub­ject. Adnan offers a ver­sa­tile tran­scen­dence of lin­guistic, cul­tural, and geo­graphic bor­ders with her works. The pieces rep­re­sent facets of her iden­tity, which in the artist’s view is a con­stantly changing pro­cess.

Curator: Tina Teufel, Museum der Moderne Salzburg

Claude Lemand.
Painter and poet, born in 1925, Etel Adnan is a Lebanese/American. She studied phi­los­ophy in Paris, Berkely and Harvard. She writes poetry, essays, sto­ries and plays. She’s a painter, and makes remark­able artist’s books. Her first exhi­bi­tion hap­pened in California in 1960, while she was teaching phi­los­ophy. She exhib­ited in the United States, England, France, Germany, and the Arab World. Many pri­vate and public col­lec­tions have acquired her works. Public Collections: Washington (National Museum for Women in the Arts, World Bank Collection), Los Angeles and New York (Contemporary Crafts Museum), Paris (Institut du Monde Arabe), London (British Museum), Tunis (Musée d’art con­tem­po­rain), Beirut (Musée Nicolas Sursock), Amman (National Royal Gallery), Doha (Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art). After spending the major part of her life in California, she resides now in Paris.

Emmanuel Daydé (quo­ta­tion from Art Absolument).
Etel Adnan’s painting, just like her poetry, come from the moun­tain to then dive into the sea. Being a con­crete expe­ri­ence of both the past and the pre­sent simul­ta­ne­ously, her ‘alchem­ical lab­o­ra­tory’ comes from far, from very far. From the unde­feated sun and from the sea that always starts again. From Lebanon, from Greece, from Paris and from America’s West coast. From the Mediterranean and from the Pacific. From the epi­curean atomism, from Mahmoud Darwish’s sad lyri­cism and from Noam Chomsky’s nat­u­ral­istic lin­guis­tics. From the icon, from the Persian minia­ture, from the Arabic cal­lig­raphy, from the carpet with geo­metric pat­terns, from the lyrical Abstraction, from Action-painting, from min­i­malist art and from the exper­i­mental cinema. Having trav­elled at the core of the core of all these coun­tries, Etel Adnan remains an Arab nomadic globe-trotter who sings the intense love of our tragic world with an infinite number of ghazals. According to her friends, ‘people are sat­is­fied if one mir­acle occurs in their lives, but Etel needs mir­a­cles to happen twice a day’. Celebrating the world’s beauty, her hedo­nistic paint­ings follow in their own way Gauguin’s prophetic ‘Talisman’, that Sérusier then passed on to the Nabis painters, the ‘prophets’.

Copyright © Galerie Claude Lemand 2012.

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