There’s a small and commendable tendency afoot to rediscover artists in the autumn of their lives and present them anew - and now it is Etel Adnan’s turn. Which is a good thing, for at 89 years old, Adnan has not only had an extraordinary and productive life that is worth revisiting - her paintings are also raw and sensual, often created straight from the paint tube.
What are her key works?
Etel Adnan – artist, poet, novelist (the acclaimed 1977 novel by Etel Adnan, Sitt Marie-Rose, was published in Paris), was originally from Beirut and now a resident in Paris and California. These days she's known for two signature series: one being her fold-out illustrated books which she calls ‘leporellos’; and the second being her colourful, schematic landscapes of Mount Tamalpais, close to where she lives in California which she has seen as her muse for many years.
White Cube Bermondsey exhibition
In this show at White Cube you’ll see 22 of Adnan's paintings: recently-made images of such Californian sunniness that you’ll be drawn in by sheer retinal intensity. Categorised by that difficult term ‘abstract landscape’, they can be seen as schematised arrangements of colourful shapes, where colours dissolve the natural forms. If you liked Matisse’s cut-outs at Tate Modern and enjoy the work of Sonia Delaunay (watch out for the great French colourists’ show at Tate next spring) you’ll certainly enjoy Adnan’s work.
Adnan's work is also influenced by her feelings of displacement, responding in some indirect way to ideas of ancestry and home following her departure from Lebanon in 1949 to pursue her PhD in philosophy at the Sorbonne in Paris.
There's also the bittersweet issue of the older artist who has been rediscovered. “It’s a nice feeling to have your work appreciated,” said Adnan recently, “but it’s almost a fashion for women to be recognised late in life.” Indeed it was 80 year old Rose Wylie who won the John Moores painting prize earlier this year.
So recognise Adnan now, and treat your eyes to a colour feast.
|What||Etel Adnan: White Cube Bermondsey|
|Where||White Cube Bermondsey, 144-152 Bermondsey Street , London, SE1 3TQ | MAP|
|Nearest tube||London Bridge (underground)|
08 Oct 14 – 16 Nov 14, 12:00 AM – 12:00 AM
|Website||Click here for more information|