The Lebanese poet, writer and artist Etel Adnan (*1925) has been making paintings since the 1960s, in which she explores language, translation, memory, history, landscape, abstraction and colour. Adnan’s exhibition at Mudam Luxembourg – Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean presents drawings, paintings, tapestries and leporellos, dating from the 1960s to the present, in dialogue with paintings by Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky and modern masters of the 20th century who have continuously inspired her.
Curated by Sébastien Delot, director of the LaM Museum in Villeneuve d’Asq, France, Etel Adnan et les modernes follows a first iteration of an exhibition previously presented in June 2018 at the Zentrum Paul Klee in Bern. A defining aspect of the exhibition is Adnan’s relation to the work of the modernist painter Paul Klee. Adnan writes: "I think that Klee is the first painter I fell in love with. I was obsessed with him. By obsessed, I mean that I just loved seeing his paintings. I was inhabited by them. In Kairouan [Tunisia], he wrote: 'The colours and I are one'. And I understood he was talking about revelation".
In addition to a selection of major works by Paul Klee, at Mudam, the dialogue between Adnan and modern art will be extended to include two other key figures: Wassily Kandinsky and Nicolas de Staël, both of whom Adnan often cites as the artists by whom she was greatly influenced. The exhibition will also include work of Georges Mathieu, aiming to highlight a close link between Informal Art and Etel Adnan’s work, as well as a selection of tapestries created at the Ramsès Wissa Wassef Art Center, which she discovered in Harrania in the 1950s.
The exhibition Etel Adnan et les modernes at Mudam Luxembourg – Musée d'art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean is organised in collaboration with the Zentrum Paul Klee in Bern.
A catalogue edited by the partner institutions has been published in June 2018 on the occasion of Etel Adnan's exhibition at Zentrum Paul Klee, Bern.
Etel Adnan was born in 1925 in Beirut, to a Greek mother and Syrian father. She grew up around different cultures and languages, including Greek, Arabic, Turkish, French, and English. After studying in Paris, New York, and Berkeley, Etel Adnan never stopped traveling. In addition to her visual works, she has published several collections of poetry, a novel, short stories, plays, essays and is considered one of the most important contemporary writers in the Arab world. Since
her conspicuous participation in Documenta 13 in 2012, her pictorial work has gained considerable international recognition. Her latest solo exhibitions have been presented at the Museum der Moderne in Salzburg (2014), the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin (2015), the Arab World Institute in Paris (2017), the Serpentine Gallery in London (2017), the Zentrum Paul Klee in Bern (2018), and the MASS MoCA in North Adams, Massachusetts (2018).