about the exhibition
New York, NY
April 05–June 17, 2001about the artist
Julie Mehretu was born in 1970 in Ethiopia. After studies in Senegal, she received her BFA from Kalamazoo College and her MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design. Mehretu was a CORE fellow at the Glassell School of Art at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, TX in 1998-99. Mehretu currently lives and works in New York, NY. She has shown throughout Texas and the United States, including solo exhibitions at Barbara Davis Gallery and Project Row Houses, Houston, TX. Her work has been included in exhibitions at the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, TX (1999); Diverseworks Artspace, Houston, TX (1998); Exit Art, New York, NY (1999); and the Texas Fine Arts Association, Austin, TX (1999). In 2000, her work drew attention in New York with its visibility in P.S. 1’s Greater New York. Her work is currently included in the exhibition Painting at the Edge of the World at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis. MN. Upcoming projects in 2001 include Freestyle at the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY; and a solo exhibition at The Project, New York, NY.
about the exhibition
Mehretu’s works are part painting, part drawing. Intricately rendered, her elaborate semi-abstractions recall cartography and architecture, urban planning and science fiction. With layers of mylar, velum, paper, ink, and paint, Mehretu arranges lines and symbols into complex systems. Her mechanized technique is counterbalanced with flowing, gestural form with a pleasing color palate. The exhibition includes paintings and drawings from 1998 to 2000. The selected works highlight Mehretu’s mastery of scale and line.
Mehretu’s subject matter centers on public spaces—government buildings, airports, highways, street grids. Socially charged, her work presents a visual record of a future environment. Although her abstractions appear to be plans of some sort, the artist keeps the narrative ambiguous. The viewer is left to question whether the paintings and drawings are documents of existing space or proposals for new sites. Her sprawling imagery hints at urban development, capitalism, and technology, inviting a critique of the impact of globalism on the individual.
Mehretu presents a non-linear arrangement of images and information with specific cultural and historical references floating through time and space. In this way, her work mirrors our fast-paced digital life and overwhelms the viewer with a dizzying array of choices and opportunities.