The exhibition initiates a conversation between two masters of contemporary painting, from the vastly different backgrounds of Beirut and Germany. Both artists continue to challenge the concept of working in a single style or media, translating their explosive color abstractions and painting processes to canvas, ceramic, glass, and tapestry.
Etel Adnan (b. 1925 in Beirut, Lebanon, and lives between California and France) is an award-winning author, playwright, poet, and visual artist, who, in the tradition of the Dadaists and Surrealists, moves fluidly between writing and art making. “It’s so rare that you have someone making such important contributions to poetry and art,” says Hans Ulrich Obrist, “Etel is one of the most influential artists of the 21st century.” Adnan’s abstract paintings were largely overlooked until later in her life. These works recall time, nature, shadow and light, and most essentially, her relationship to place. Featured works in the exhibition are two recent hand-woven tapestries created in collaboration with Atelier Pinton Aubusson — Feux d’Artifice, 2014, and L’etang Fleuri, 2016 — both of which translate Adnan’s precise, almost topographical painting technique into the lush, yet systematic medium of tapestry.
Gerhard Richter (b. 1932, Dresden, Germany, and lives in Cologne, Germany), is often lauded as the greatest artist working today with a prolific career spanning six decades. Richter has mastered multiple styles and genres of painting, with contributions to pop art, minimalism, neo-expressionism, photo-realism, and abstraction through portraiture, landscape, and still-life. In recent years, Richter’s interests in merging media and appropriation have resulted in works that transform his own paintings into a range of forms, exploring the process of painting through digital techniques.