Over the years I’ve had a few art heroes. Mark Rothko, Ellsworth Kelly, and of course, Rembrandt. I have been inspired by Diebenkorn’s early abstract paintings, but he isn’t a hero. I don’t know why he doesn’t transcend that boundary, from being great, inspiring, to being a courageous hero. I need to think about that.
But now, I have a new hero. Etel Adnan. Not only is her work brave, she is extraordinary as a person. A poet, writer, painter, intelligent in her life and work, and still producing great paintings and writing at 94. Amazing and inspiring.
Usually I wouldn’t comment on age or sex being inspiring and I wouldn’t if I didn’t resonate so much with her work. I know there is ageism and sexism in most fields, especially the visual arts, but I have always worn blinders, just kept going straight ahead. I do hope I will be “discovered” before it is too late but I know I would not feel alive if I didn’t paint. I don’t think it is her age that I find so inspiring, although that too is unusual. The work itself has a quiet power that is important to me. So, yes, Adnan is my new hero.