— At the Festival

Published on November 17 2021


Etel Adnan
© Courtesy Galerie Lelong & Co. Paris

It is with great sorrow that we announce the recent passing of the Lebanese-American painter and poet Etel Adnan. Born in Beirut in 1925, she was an extraordinarily versatile artist, whose roots and nomadic background made here one of the rare individuals who have existed at the crossroads of cultures, religions and languages, in both the Mediterranean Basin and the West in general. She was, first and foremost, a major artist, thanks to the variety of her experimentation, her commitment to specific issues and themes, and her unwavering quest to find depth and expression in simplicity. Her oeuvre and her very being served as a constant inspiration for many artists and admirers, including the composer Samir Odeh-Tamimi and the stage director and director of the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence Pierre Audi, who brought her poetic saga The Arab Apocalypse (1975) to the stage at LUMA Arles last summer. From her poem — one of the most important representations that exist of the Lebanese civil war — these two artists created a work of musical theatre that brings out both the topicality and universality of Etel Adnan’ saga. The sun, a central theme in this series of mystical variations, allegorises the widespread influence of cultures from the Arab world as well as the cataclysm that was brought upon them, in an endless tragedy with global repercussions. The Arab Apocalypse was already prophetic at the time it was written, and remains a visionary insight into the hardships that Lebanon faces today. To pay tribute to this author, the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence has made a video recording of this production available online, along with excerpts from the printed programme, the introduction to The Arab Apocalypse and an interview with Etel Adnan.