47 years together
They’ve lived together for 47 years. Those 47 years have fostered a shared interest in painting, sculpture, literature, and poetry. Simone Fattal (born in 1942 in Damascus) grew up in Lebanon. Etel Adnan was born in 1925 in Beirut.
Together they experienced exile in California following the Lebanese civil war and found various ways of reinventing themselves. They are both polyglots and display a great openness towards the world.
These days Simone Fattal makes abstract sculptures reminiscent of ceramic remnants from some unknown archaeological site, and she was the subject of a retrospective at Moma PS1 in 2019.
Paintings and poetry
Etel Adnan didn’t receive recognition until she was 87 years old. She came to international attention at Documenta in Kassel in 2012. Paradoxically, the power of her work lies in its multidisciplinary invention which is usually barely highlighted in the majority of exhibitions she take part in. Etel paints and writes poems, always sitting at the same desk. She paints and writes about the same subjects. Her words and paintings are made using the same ink (see the report on the subject). And she has since been a ubiquitous presence on the international scene and the art market with her small scale cubist-like landscapes that verge on abstraction in contrasting colours. Etel has a simultaneously lively and placid demeanour.
Social distancing interview
Simone is fiery, but she’s more measured in Etel’s presence. The latter hasn’t travelled for many years. It seemed to be particularly interesting to learn about this fascinating couple’s view on the current coronavirus situation and the hopes that it could give rise to.
We arranged a socially distanced meeting at their apartment, located in the quarter of Saint-Germain-des-Près in Paris.
The first question related to the period of confinement.
The second asked about their hopes for the future.
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