For Etel Adnan, a show in Turkey is a symbolic homecoming

Kaya Genc, Apollo Magazine, June 3, 2021

Showing work in Turkey is a personal affair for Etel Adnan: a homecoming of sorts. Of her childhood, the Beirut-born painter – also a poet, tapestry designer, novelist, teacher of aesthetics and librettist – has said: ‘We saw ourselves as an Ottoman family.’ Adnan’s grandfather was a Turkish soldier. Her Damascus-born father, Assaf Kadri, was governor of Smyrna under Ottoman rule. At the Istanbul Biennial in 2015 Adnan exhibited Family Memoirs on the End of the Ottoman Empire (2015), a handwritten text in the form of an accordion-like folding notebook, or ‘leporello’, which makes reference to the Armenian genocide, in which she fears her father, being an Ottoman officer, took part. Adnan ends her essay by inviting Turkey to consider its past and ‘face the future with more serenity’.