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Etel Adnan: Sea and Fog

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Oakville Galleries’ current exhibition takes its title, Sea and Fog, from a 2012 publication by Etel Adnan. As with many of Adnan’s written works, weather phenomena and motifs from the natural world—the sea, the sun, fog, fires, deserts and storms—form a continuous backdrop to a series of prose-poetry meditations on time, place, poetry, war, love and loss.

She writes, for example: The sky fell and storms blew on its face. It sank deeper; in that maelstrom humans lost balance. There were fires on earth and questioning in the waters.

Despite the dark charge of such passages, however, the sea, as ever, is a restorative force: We fear violence, but more feared is its absence. So heavy is the world becoming. Heavy in the soul. A few laps in the ocean will bring rest.

And later in the book she urges her readers to: Look well at the Pacific before you die. The best of the promised paradises have neither its hues nor its splendor.

With this book, Adnan continues to eloquently give voice to the trauma of an increasingly unsettled world, and to remind us that art, poetry, and the natural world may offer much-needed moments of liberation, resistance and respite.

Etel-Adnan-4Images (top to bottom): Selected poetry and prose by Etel Adnan; Installation view of Etel Adnan: Sea and Fog at Oakville Galleries in Gairloch Gardens. Left: Montagnes 4, 2015, india ink on paper. Centre: Forêt automnale, 2015, wool tapestry. Courtesy of Galerie Lelong. Photos: Toni Hafkenscheid.