Etel Adnan, Rihla ila Jabal Tamalpaïs (Journey to Mount Tamalpaïs), 2008, Watercolor and Indian ink on Japanese Paper, 54 pages each 31 x 10,5 cm; extension: 567 cm, © Galerie Claude Lemand, Paris; Etel Adnan, Paysage 2, 2014, Oil on canvas, 32 x 41 cm, © Galerie Claude Lemand, Paris; Etel Adnan, California, 1977, Tapestry, wool, natural color, 130 x 180 cm, © Sfeir-Semler Gallery, Hamburg/Beirut

Etel Adnan. Writing Mountains

The multifaceted work of Etel Adnan is being shown for the first time in Austria at the Museum der Moderne in Salzburg. The artist was born in Beirut in 1925 and after living in Paris, New York, and Sausalito, California, now resides again in Paris. She gained reputation as a writer, poet, artist, and culture journalist. Her paintings have been known to a wider public since her presentation at Documenta 13 in Kassel in 2012. This exhibition spans Adnan’s work from the 1960s to the present and includes paintings, works on paper, tapestry, and film. Audio recordings and a selection of her publications which have been published in numerous languages round off the show.

Etel Adnan’s early paintings from the 1950s to the 1970s were constructed using from contrasting fields of color and recall the works of Nicolas de Staël and Paul Klee. Like Adnan, these artists created works combining the abstract and figurative in a manner that ran counter to the artistic style of their time. Since 1964 accordion-fold artist’s books on Japanese paper with illustrated handwritten poems by modern Arabic poets have held a special position within her work. While Adnan was in California in the 1980s, Mount Tamalpaïs north of San Francisco was an important source of inspiration. She compares her artistic interpretation of the mountain with Paul Cézanne’s precise observation of nature and his obsession with Mont Sainte-Victoire. Over a 35-year period she has produced countless works showing the mountain in different colors, lighting, seasons, and times of day as she moved towards more abstract depictions. The directness of her artistic expression allows us to experience landscapes of the mind in which her poetic language is given visual form.

Adnan’s artistic and literary creativity transcends linguistic, cultural, and geographical boundaries. The different forms of expression represent facets of her identity, which the artist sees as a continuously changing process.

Curator: Tina Teufel, Museum der Moderne Salzburg


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