La joie de vivre
curated by Sabine Schaschl
Etel Adnan has won over the artworld with her small-format paintings, tapestries, fold-out books, and Super-8 films. However, she initially became famous as a writer, poet, and cultural editor. Her most important publications include the novel “Sitt Marie Rose” (1977), for which she received the “Prix de l’amitié franco-arabe”, the book of poetry “Arab Apocalypse” (1980) and the artist’s book “Journey to Mount Tamalpais” (1986). Her first paintings were produced at the end of the 1950s in the USA, where she worked as a lecturer, having studied philosophy at the Sorbonne, in Berkeley, and at Harvard.
Adnan’s paintings know no hierarchy between primary and mixed colors; their coloring is rich and radiant. The paint, applied with a palette knife in clearly defined fields, adheres to visual arrangements that appear almost architectural, demonstrating a formal relationship with those of Nicolas de Staël (1914-1955). In an interview with Sabine Schaschl, the artist explains her approach: “When I apply a color, this color has its own intensity, but it also has a form. It must have a form. There’s no getting around that. And this determines the next step. (...) It’s about constantly establishing a new balance between color and meaning.” Etel Adnan’s paintings are produced in a single painting process, without interruption and without subsequent corrections. The artist compares her paintings’ small format with the writing of poems: “Poems are small and compact. And my paintings on canvas are exactly the same. (...) Essentially, they are visual poems.” In her fold-out books, which Etel Adnan has been developing since 1964, drawing, poetry and the writing process itself directly intertwine. When folded together, they are intimate little books. When folded out at full length, they become spatial objects. With over fifty paintings from all periods of her work, as well as selected tapestries, folding screens, fold-out books, and a Super-8 film, the exhibition at Museum Haus Konstruktiv provides an overview of Etel Adnan’s diverse forms of artistic expression. The artist has decided to call this exhibition “La joie de vivre”, the joy of living, thus emphasizing the statement-like nature of her art: as a decision in favor of life itself.
This exhibition was accompanied by a catalog, published by Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König.
Exhibition trailer >>>