Presented exclusively by YUP in anticipation of the publication of Adonis’ newest book, Concerto al-Quds,
We are delighted to publish a record of world-renowned poet Adonis and award-winning artist Adel Abdessemed‘s conversations in Paris in this collection of letters written between June 2013 and February 2015. The letters in this three part blog series capture a native exuberance, which comes alive in the unique interplay of two remarkable artists.
They challenge, provoke and celebrate each other, discussing the dynamics of an evolving aesthetic, the tension between realism and surrealism, the code of behavior in living life as an artist, the material 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 Arab and Islamic culture, along with the disconnection between the spiritual beauty of their culture and the confusing violence that dominates headlines. What emerges, in the end, is a document of friendship, of mentoring; an unembarrassed urging toward the numinous. 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!”
Read part one and three.
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.
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. He came out of retirement to write Concerto al-Quds, the English translation of which is being published in January.