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The Jeweled Isle: Art from Sri Lanka at LACMA Ocula Report The Jeweled Isle: Art from Sri Lanka at LACMA 18 Jan 2019 : Perwana Nazif for Ocula

The Jeweled Isle: Art from Sri Lanka at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (9 December 2018–23 June 2019) is billed as the first comprehensive survey of Sri Lankan art organised by a U.S. museum, with around 240 works—including decorative objects, textiles, photographs, and historical works from the museum's own collection of Sri Lankan...

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Ellen Pau Ocula Conversation Ellen Pau Artist

A radiographer by training, Ellen Pau is a self-taught artist who emerged from Hong Kong's fledgling contemporary art scene of the late 1980s, when video was a comparatively nascent medium. In 1986, Pau co-founded Videotage—a non-profit organisation that specialises in the promotion and preservation of video and new media art. Pau has an...

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Singapore Art Week: Exhibitions to See Ocula Report Singapore Art Week: Exhibitions to See 18 Jan 2019 : Tessa Moldan for Ocula

S.E.A. Focus, the new boutique art fair by STPI – Creative Workshop & Gallery, will take centre stage during this year's Singapore Art Week (19–27 January 2019). Running between 24 and 27 January 2019, 26 galleries will participate in the inaugural edition, showcasing modern and contemporary Southeast Asian art within a pop-up structure in...

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Etel Adnan

b. 1925, Lebanon

Etel Adnan is living proof that age is simply a number, as the Beirut-born American artist and poet is still prolific, producing fiercely political and personal poetry, novels and paintings at the age of 91. A woman who can speak five languages and who has effortlessly moved between the disciplines of writing and painting, Adnan draws on her experience of a world that has drastically changed several times over her life, as well as on her somewhat nomadic existence, moving from Lebanon to France and eventually to California, allowing for a complex, engaging merging and traversal of cultures.

Produced since the early 1960’s, Adnan’s paintings showcase a different angle of her understanding of the world around her. Her brightly coloured landscapes are shaped loosely and emotionally with a palette knife on intimate canvases, creating vibrant fields of colour that emanate both an intense energy and a sense of tranquillity. While her prose is visceral, highly politicised and reflective of the chaotic, what Adnan’s paintings reveal is her spiritual engagement with her environment, realising a much more sensory experience and honest, inherently personal appreciation for the world. As she stated in a 2012 article in The Paris Review, her works are purposefully sparse and portray a calming disposition. They are a reflection of '…the happiness to just be'.

However, perhaps it is this relationship between her writing and her art that gives the paintings their additional depth. By knowing of the confronting, brutal nature of her writing, one imbues Adnan’s serene paintings with these stark realities. But they are not simply peaceful pictures of escapism; rather they highlight how Adnan sees beauty and love in a world full of turmoil.

This theme of landscape is an important marker in Adnan’s work, as it is intrinsically linked to her travels and homes in different parts of the world. The earth, sea, light and shadows of Beirut, France, and her current home in Sausalito, California are refined and distilled down. Indeed, Mount Tamalpais, visible from her California home, became a geographical focal point, much like Cezanne’s relationship with Mont Sainte-Victorie. The impasto application of oil paints and the geometric build of the landscape represent a personal journey, laden with stories, emotions, and experiences.

Although Etel Adnan has had a distinguished and well-travelled career, her art has only come to prominence in her later years. Moving to America in the 1950s, she studied at the University of California and at Harvard and subsequently taught philosophy at the Dominican University of California. Around 1959, she began painting and drawing, partly inspired by her decision to cease writing her prose in French in protest to the treatment of local peoples of colonial areas of North Africa by France.

Since 1961, she has exhibited worldwide, particularly her native Lebanon and in America and France, with recent solo exhibitions at the Galerie Sfeir-Semler in Beirut, Lebanon, 2010; Callicoon Fine Arts, New York, 2012 and 2014; The Wattis Institute, San Francisco, California, 2013; White Cube, London, England, 2014; Galerie Lelong, New York, 2015; and most recently, at the Serpentine Galleries in London, England, 2016. She has also participated in a number of group exhibitions, including dOCUMENTA (13) in Kassel, Germany in 2012; the Whitney Biennial in New York, 2014; and the Sharjah Biennial 12, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, 2014.

Etel Adnan lives and works in Paris, France and Sausalito, California, U.S.A.

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Featured Artworks

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Jardins 8 by Etel Adnan contemporary artwork Etel AdnanJardins 8, 2018 Oil on canvas
30 x 30 cm
Galerie Lelong & Co.
Avril by Etel Adnan contemporary artwork Etel AdnanAvril, 2017 Wool tapestry
144 x 200 cm
Galerie Lelong & Co.
Ailleurs by Etel Adnan contemporary artwork Etel AdnanAilleurs, 2018 Etching
48 x 38 cm
Galerie Lelong & Co.
Untitled by Etel Adnan contemporary artwork Etel AdnanUntitled, 2015 Oil on canvas
41 x 33 cm
Galerie Lelong & Co.
Sri Lanka by Etel Adnan contemporary artwork Etel AdnanSri Lanka, 2018 Etching
76 x 45.5 cm
Galerie Lelong & Co.
Sans titre by Etel Adnan contemporary artwork Etel AdnanSans titre, 2014 Oil on canvas
27 x 35 cm
Galerie Lelong & Co.
Soleil lointain by Etel Adnan contemporary artwork Etel AdnanSoleil lointain, 2017 Etching
57 x 45 cm
Galerie Lelong & Co.
Voyage vers la lune by Etel Adnan contemporary artwork Etel AdnanVoyage vers la lune, 2018 Etching
48 x 38 cm
Galerie Lelong & Co.

Recent Exhibitions

View All (7)
Contemporary art exhibition, Etel Adnan, Parler aux fleurs at Galerie Lelong & Co., Paris
22 November 2018–19 January 2019 Etel Adnan Parler aux fleurs Galerie Lelong & Co., Paris
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Of the Self and of the Other at Galerie Lelong & Co., New York
28 June–3 August 2018 Group Exhibition Of the Self and of the Other Galerie Lelong & Co., New York
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Surface Work at Victoria Miro, London
11 April–16 June 2018 Group Exhibition Surface Work Victoria Miro, Mayfair, London

Represented By

In Related Press

View All (15)
From Poetry to Chemistry to ‘a Shared Museum,’ Performances at FIAC Related Press From Poetry to Chemistry to ‘a Shared Museum,’ Performances at FIAC The New York Times : 17 October 2018

Not all of the work at FIAC, the Foire Internationale d'Art Contemporain (International Contemporary Art Fair), is in frames or on pedestals. Parades for FIAC, a performance festival now in its third year (although performances have been part of the fair for a decade now), is staging 17 productions, with a special emphasis this time on dance and...

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'The colours I use are the colours of California' - an interview with Etel Adnan Related Press 'The colours I use are the colours of California' - an interview with Etel Adnan Apollo Magazine : 16 June 2018

There’s something curiously familiar about visiting Etel Adnan’s apartment in Paris. Not that I’ve ever been there before. But in recent years it has become a sort of cult destination for art-world figures, mentioned and mythologised by the various curators and critics who go to meet her, as well as depicted in film-portraits of the artist. Her...

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Surface Work review – women abstract artists dazzle in historic show Related Press Surface Work review – women abstract artists dazzle in historic show The Guardian : 15 April 2018

There are certain shows that change one's sense of art. Surface Work is one of them. Spread across two sites, it is nothing less than an anthology of abstract painting spanning an entire century, from early constructivism to post-digital sampling, in which every work holds its own and every work is by a woman. This is a rare and historic event.It...

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At MoMA, Women at Play in the Fields of Abstraction Related Press At MoMA, Women at Play in the Fields of Abstraction The New York Times : 13 April 2017

Abstraction is a foundational subject for MoMA. The institution was basically conceived on the premise that this is the mode to which all advanced art aspires. But the work in Making Space, dating from the end of World War II to the beginning of second-wave feminism, is not really representative of the museum historically. For one thing, of course,...

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