Photo of Adel Abdessemed by Gilles Bensimon

The Skin of Chaos —The Letters of Adonis and Adel Abdessemed (part 1)

This is part one of a three-part series. Read part two and three.

World-renowned poet Adonis and award-winning artist Adel Abdessemed present a record of their passionate conversations in Paris in this collection of letters written between June 2013 and February 2015.  Presented exclusively for the first time here in anticipation of the publication of Adonis’ newest book, Concerto al-Quds, on November 28, the letters in this three part blog series capture a native exuberance that comes alive in a unique interchange between two remarkable artists.  They challenge, provoke and celebrate each other, whether discussing the dynamics of an evolving aesthetic, the tension between realism and surrealism, the code of behavior in living life as an artist, the grounding of rapture and the sublime, the materiality of the stuff of art, whether it be words and rhythm or space and stone – and the sympathy between their two art forms.  With urgency and passion, they discuss the place of artists in the Arab-Islamic culture and the disconnect between the spiritual beauty of that culture and the confusing violence that dominates our headlines.  What emerges, in the end, is a document of friendship, of mentoring, an unembarrassed urging toward the rapturous.  Evoking Virgil, Dante and other great narratives of guided odysseys, Adonis and Adel Abdessemend take us an intimate journey toward artistic expression.  As Adonis, the elder, writes to Adel with his signature generosity:  “Give me your hand!”

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Read part two.

Adonis, born Ali Ahmad Sa’id, has been a leading figure in the modernist movement in Arabic poetry since the mid-twentieth century. He lives in France. Adel Abdessemed  has been a foremost figure of contemporary art since rising to prominence in the late 1990s. His practice encompasses video, drawing, installation, sculpture, and consistently pushes the boundaries of both medium and content.

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