Etel Adnan, poet, writer and visual artist

Etel Adnan, a writer and artist who described herself as an “artisan of beauty and truth” has died at the age of 96.

In 2014, the artist received the Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres in France. The same year, his work was exhibited at the Whitney Biennial in New York.

Describing Adnan’s work, his longtime partner and artist Simone Fattal said he played the same role that “the old icons played for people who believed. They breathe and give energy. They protect you like talismans. They help you go about your day-to-day life.

Her paintings are optimistic, as she uses the written word to tackle heavy subjects like war.

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However, it was not until later in her life that Adnan would become known for her visual arts. Although she stopped writing in French for a time to protest the Algerian War (1954-1962), it was her novel Sitt Marie-Rose that first brought her to a worldwide audience. . Published in 1978, it covered part of the Lebanese Civil War 1975-1990 and the period just before.

Born in Beirut after World War I, the nuns at Adnan’s Catholic school said that all was well with her, except her Muslim father. At the time, interfaith marriages were rare. She grew up speaking several languages. Adnan’s mother was Greek and was part of the Greek Orthodox Church. She described her father as “a Turk and a Muslim”. During the Ottoman Empire he was an army official. After the end, he retired and Adnan declared that he had become “unemployable”.

Although her father was previously married and a father of three, she was the couple’s only child.

Adnan studied philosophy at the Sorbonne in Paris. She continued her education at Berkely and Howard University in America and later taught at the Dominican University in California. Although she teaches philosophy, she is encouraged by Ann O’Hanlon, the artistic director of the university, to try painting.

In 2004, Adnan wrote poetry in English to protest the war in Iraq. Adnan had enjoyed a visit to Iraq in 1976, claiming that the country had “the most exuberant culture of all Arab countries”. Speaking to Beshar magazine, she explained that the conflict had made her feel alienated in America.

“Over time, you can pretty much feel included. But when it comes to a crisis somewhere in your home or near you, then you realize that you are leading a double life, ”she explained. “Something is hurting you that is completely irrelevant to others. “

His paintings are currently on display at the famous Guggenheim Museum in New York. More of his work will be on view in Amsterdam at the Van Gogh Museum next year. Adnan once wrote: “Love does not die when we die. It is our resurrection. She is survived by her companion Simone Fattal.

Etel Adnan, poet, writer and visual artist, born February 24, 1925, died November 14, 2021

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