ETEL ADNAN - Donation Claude & France Lemand

From 8 to 18 February - Galerie Claude Lemand

  • 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. Portrait.

    Portrait of Etel Adnan.

Claude Lemand. Interview with Nathalie Bondil (extract)

Nathalie Bondil. A great writer and artist was your close neighbor, your long-time friend in Paris: Etel Adnan. You donated rare leporellos and other paint­ings to the IMA museum. A small land­scape The Mountain (2014) has become iconic, loaned to inter­na­tional insti­tu­tions such as the Zentrum Paul Klee in Bern or the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam… How do you explain this recog­ni­tion? What does this little canvas mean to you?

Claude Lemand. I met Etel in Paris in March 1989, from my first exhi­bi­tion of Benanteur’s paint­ings, which she and her partner Simone Fattal knew and appre­ci­ated. Etel was a won­derful person. Her fem­i­nist activism was clear, deter­mined, calm, without aggres­sion, very pos­i­tive. A uni­ver­salist wisdom inspired her writ­ings and her fas­ci­nating inter­views. Her lit­erary and artistic cre­ativity flowed nat­u­rally. Aware of her value, she remained sur­prised and happy at her late suc­cess. Etel was very loyal and dis­creetly gen­erous, not only with her many friends, but also with young women artists, writers, trans­la­tors, gallery owners and fem­i­nist activists. I wit­nessed it over the last thirty years of her life.

I first became inter­ested in her leporellos, which I con­sid­ered to be his most orig­inal con­tri­bu­tion. Etel played a pioneering role in Lebanon and the Arab world with these hand­written, drawn and painted note­books. She said: “I have a pas­sion for the Arab world; we are the region of the three monothe­istic reli­gions. But reli­gion is not just a the­ology, it is also a cul­ture, we have an incred­ible her­itage. » She explained “drawing Arabic” more than writing this lan­guage that she heard as a child. Although she never mas­tered it or spoke it, she had relearned its writing. She says: “In 1964, I dis­cov­ered in San Francisco these Japanese note­books which unfold like an accor­dion, in which Japanese painters com­bined draw­ings, texts and poems. I imme­di­ately imag­ined that this would be a great alter­na­tive to the tra­di­tional page format, as if you were writing the river itself. The result is a true trans­la­tion of the orig­inal Arabic poem into a visual equiv­a­lence. This Japanese format of unfolding paper cre­ates a hor­i­zontal format that seems infinite and goes beyond the usual frame­work of painted works. This becomes a lib­er­a­tion of text and image. »

The Mountain is emblem­atic of the most inspired paint­ings of her abun­dant pro­duc­tion over the last ten years, with its vibrant and con­trasting colors, between the blue of the Mediterranean and the red sun of Lebanon. Although small in size, its com­po­si­tion is vast and global. This moun­tain tire­lessly sung about, painted and drawn by Etel, is, cer­tainly, Mount Tamalpaïs that she saw when opening the window, dec­o­rated with flower pots on the sill, of her house in Sausalito near San Francisco: it was her land­scape of lost par­adise, dreamed or hoped for. During her Californian exile, she had adopted this uni­versal symbol which con­soled and reas­sured her in the absence of Mount Sannine, a memory of her youth in Lebanon, which she saw from every­where and in all sea­sons. In her essay, Journey to Mount Tamalpaïs, Etel writes: “Mount Tamalpaïs has become my home. For Cézanne, the Sainte Victoire was no longer a moun­tain, but an abso­lute, a painting. » She adds: “I need to move around the moun­tain because I am water. The moun­tain must stay and I must go. Standing on Mount Tamalpaïs, I par­tic­i­pate in the rhythms of the world. Everything seems right. I am in har­mony with the stars. For better or for worse, I know, I know. » Etel had become a pan­theist over time, like the Lebanese-American poet Khalil Gibran of The Processions or The Prophet. The Mountain is the self-por­trait of this lumi­nous woman, firmly anchored to the Earth and her head turned towards the Sky.

ETEL ADNAN - Donation Claude & France Lemand to the IMA Museum:

6 Leporellos with texts :
- Al-Sayyâb, La Mère et la Fille perdue, 1970. Fermé, 33 x 25,5 cm. Ouvert, 33 x 612 cm.
- Joumana Haddad, Retour de Lilit, 2004. Fermé, 33 x 25,5 cm. Ouvert, 33 x 567 cm.
- Etel Adnan, Voyage au Mont Tamalpaïs, 2008. Fermé, 30 x 10,5 cm. Ouvert, 30 x 567 cm.
- Sarjoun Boulos, Arche de Noé, 2012. Fermé, 27 x 9 cm. Ouvert, 27 x 540 cm.
- Etel Adnan, Là-bas, 2012. Fermé, 27 x 9 cm. Ouvert, 27 x 540 cm.
- Etel Adnan, 27 Octobre 2003, 2013. Fermé, 21 x 15 cm. Ouvert, 21 x 360 cm.

4 Leporellos without text :
- From Laura’s Window n°2, 1977. Closed, 20,6 x 8 cm. Open, 20,6 x 240 cm.
- Paris Roofs from Jim’s Windows, 1977. Closed, 18 x 19,5 cm. Open, 18 x 585 cm.
- New York, 1993. Closed, 17,5 x 11,7 cm. Open, 17,5 x 280 cm.
-  Trees, 2012. Closed, 27 x 9 cm. Open, 27 x 522 cm.

4 Paintings on canvas :
- Paysage calme, 2013. Oil on canvas, 35 x 45 cm.
- Landscape, 2014. Oil on canvas, 32 x 41 cm.
- Landscape, 2014. Oil on canvas, 32 x 41 cm.
- Landscape, 2015. Oil on canvas, 27 x 35 cm.

12 Drawings on paper :
- La Montagne, 2014. A set of 10 works. Watercolour and India ink on paper, 52 x 70 cm.
- Fleurs devant la Montagne, 2015. Watercolour and ink on paper, 57 x 76 cm.
- Fleurs sur le rebord de ma fenêtre, 2015. Ink on paper, 57 x 76 cm.

Copyright © Galerie Claude Lemand 2012.

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