On the Ground and in the Airwaves
The Nation, April 2, 2020

By Barry Schwabsky

I visited “Taking Shape” after “Theater of Operations,” and it was hard not to see the very optimism that permeated so many of these abstract works through the eyes of disillusionment. Looking at the work of the most renowned of the artists included in “Taking Shape,” Etel Adnan—a Lebanese-born painter who spent most of her life in California and who is also an extraordinary writer and poet—I couldn’t help recalling the critic Kaelen Wilson-Goldie’s perception of “the difficulty in reconciling the brutality of [Adnan’s] writings, which tackle subjects such as war, violence, environmental degradation, and corruption, with the beauty of her paintings.” One feels her paintings, with their solar hues, might be intended as a healing for everything that’s so violently anatomized in her poetry and prose works, like The Arab Apocalypse (1989).

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