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Famous Lebanese American writer dies at 96 – ARTnews.com

By on November 15, 2021 0

Etel Adnan, the famous Lebanese-American writer and artist, died Sunday in Paris. She was 96 years old. Her passing has been confirmed by her gallery, Galerie Lelong & Co. She is survived by her longtime partner, artist and editor Simone Fattal.

Over the course of half a century, Adnan has explored themes of political discord, national identity, and feminism in the Arab world in artful poetry and prose. His novel, Sitt Marie Rose (1978), is one of the defining texts of the civil war which lasted 15 years in Lebanon. later works such as the collection of poetry Arabic apocalypse (1980); Of Cities and Women (Letters to Fawwaz), a 1993 book of letters of the artist’s letters; and In the heart of the heart of another country (2005), a series of vignettes on the personal and the political, have also become touchstones for generations of writers and artists.

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His visual art, which has only recently gained attention, acts as a tribute to the natural world and takes the form of bright abstract landscapes.

“Etel Adnan has inspired everyone who was lucky enough to have met her in person. She taught us how important memory is without nostalgia and made physical in the beauty of words and images rendered by the light and darkness of the 20th and 21st centuries, ”said Mary Sabbatino, Vice President and Associate at the Lelong Gallery. ARTnews, adding: “As another poet wrote, ‘stop all the clocks / for she is dead.'”

Adnan began painting in the 1960s while teaching aesthetics and philosophy at a college in northern California. In the 1970s and 1980s, she had published several collections of poetry and essays, but it wasn’t until 2012, when curator Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev included her in Documenta 13, that her visual art took off. received the same critical attention.

Her participation in the 2014 Whitney Biennial earned her even more acclaim. The same year, she was awarded the Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres, the highest cultural distinction in France. An exhibition of his work, titled “Etel Adnan: The New Measure of Light,” is currently on display at the Guggenheim Museum in New York. A selection of his paintings, ceramics, accordion artist books and tapestries are on display.

In a 2014 interview with Bomb magazine, Adnan reflected on the late recognition of his visual art: “I wish this had happened, say, twenty years ago. It’s nice to see her work appreciated, but it’s almost a fad for women to be recognized late in life. Agnès Martin, for example. It’s a trend, but we hope that will change.

Etel Adnan was born in 1925 in Beirut, Lebanon. His father, Assaf Kadri, was a Syrian born in Damascus and a retired Ottoman army official. Her mother, Rosa Kadri, was a Greek who grew up in Smyrna, which is now known as the Turkish city of Izmir. (Kadri changed the family’s last name to Adnan, his father’s first name, in 1932.) Etel described his father as an “unemployed man,” dislocated by the dismantling of the Ottoman Empire. Her mother’s hometown was burned down in 1922. “I grew up with people who were defeated when they were still young,” she said. Adnan spoke Arabic and Greek at home and was subsequently enrolled in a French-speaking Catholic school in Beirut.

At the end of the 1940s, Adnan left Beirut to study philosophy at the Sorbonne in Paris. In 1955, she moved to the United States, where she studied philosophy at Berkeley and Harvard before accepting a position as a teacher of aesthetics and philosophy at the Dominican College of California at San Rafael (now University Dominican of California). She started writing poetry in opposition to the Vietnam War, which was eventually published in the Anti-War Anthology, Where is vietnam.

In 1959, at the age of 34, she began to paint at the instigation of the head of the artistic department.

“[She] I wondered how I could teach such a course without practicing painting, ”Adnan told the Paris review. “She gave me pencils and scraps of paper, and I started doing odd jobs, and she said I didn’t need any training, that I was a painter. So I continued. “

Adnan returned to Lebanon in 1972, where she met artist Simone Fattal. Adnan was working as a cultural editor for two Beirut dailies when civil war broke out in 1975. She and Fattal fled to Paris, and there Adnan wrote the novel. Sitt Marie Rose, based on the true story of Marie Rose Boulo, who was kidnapped and killed by the Phalangists for her support of the Palestinian cause. (The Phalangists were an active militia in East Beirut during the war).

Etel Adnan,

Etel Adnan, Untitled, 2018.
Courtesy of the artist and the White Cube © Etel Adnan

Adnan returned to California in the late 1970s. She moved to Sausalito, Bay Area, and began painting Mount Tamalpais. Applying the pigment directly from the tube with a palette knife, she created a series of abstract renderings of the mountain range. Discrete geometries – a flat sun on a cosmic scale, a band of color separating the sky and the sea – became hallmarks of his painting, as did the repetition of a single subject in countless circumstances.

“Usually, I’m a compulsive person, and I need, sometimes urgently, to paint… Painting is close to poetry, it is a kind of poetry expressed visually. It has to be spontaneous, fast, at least in my case, ”she said.

The first significant presentation of his paintings came in 2010, when a selection was presented at the influential Galerie Sfeir-Semler gallery in Beirut. Shortly after, Documenta invited her to participate in its 13th edition. Among the works exhibited by Adnan were his first cinematic effort, Movement (1980-89 / 2012); a palette knife; and several objects from the National Museum of Beirut that had been mutilated during fighting between militias in the 1970s have spread throughout the institution.

His exhibition at the Guggenheim focuses on his work since the mid-20th century and includes several of his acclaimed leporellos: books by chord artists in which the distinction between his literary and writing practices partially collapses; In manYes, ink drawn glyphs intervene with handwritten verses.

Adnan has said more than once that his paintings and writings have different intentions. His writings dealt with memory, loss and social injustice. His paintings, on the other hand, were intended as deeply personal meditations on the will of the human spirit.

In the Guggenheim catalog, Simone Fattal describes Adnan’s art as playing “the role that ancient icons played for people who believed.” They give off energy and give energy. They protect you like talismans. They help you go about your day to day life.


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