Renegade Delirium. Mehretu's points of departure are architecture and the city, particularly the accelerated, compressed and highly dense urban environments of the 21st century. Her canvases overlay different architectural features and geographic schema such as columns, porticoes, building plans, and city maps, all seen from many viewpoints - aerial, cross-section and isometric.
White Cube is pleased to present an exhibition of new paintings by Julie Mehretu. Born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Mehretu now lives and works in New York. Mehretu is a painter who makes large-scale, ultra dynamic canvases built up through a complicated series of acrylic layers on canvas overlaid with explorative, frenetic mark-making: a combination of delicate, almost filigree ink lines and thick, streams of coloured paint.
Mehretu's points of departure are architecture and the city, particularly the accelerated, compressed and highly dense urban environments of the 21st century. Her canvases overlay different architectural features and geographic schema such as columns, porticoes, building plans, and city maps, all seen from many viewpoints - aerial, cross-section and isometric. Imploded and chaotic, they seem driven by their own internal force, explosive lines of colour and marks spreading over the canvas from a central energy core. Any notion of scale or perspective is lost, leaving the viewer confronted by a semi-abstract picture that incorporates a confounding series of transparent strata, a kind of unpeeling of the layers that make up a city itself, a way of travelling through time, of experiencing different historical moments all at once. The canvases present a visual tornado of incident, where gridded cities become fluid and flattened, like so many layers of urban graffiti.
Mehretu has lived in Ethiopia, Michigan, Texas and Brooklyn but despite her personal experience of different cities, she sees her work as non place-specific and more experiential, describing her canvases as 'story maps of no location'. In this sense, her work relates more to the viewer's imagination than to any definable reality, and seems, through its chaotic association of images, to represent the speed of the modern city itself, through the time-aged medium of paint and pencil. It is as if the strata that is exposed on the canvas, is an un-layering or discovery of the many layers of a city itself. As Laura Hoptman has commented: Mehretu's works 'are hybrids of all those cities that we have inculcated, whether by actual contact or by second-hand experience through television, film or books, as well as hybrids of all those cities we have yet to absorb.'
Mehretu has exhibited in group exhibitions internationally, at venues including the Stedelijk Museum Voor Actuele Kunst, Gent, MusÃ©e d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Paris and Museum of Modern Art, New York. She has had solo exhibitions at Art Pace, San Antonio and The Project, New York.
In 2003 she will have a solo exhibition at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis.
Preview Tuesday 2nd July 6-8pm
Open Tuesday to Saturday, 10am - 6pm.
For further information please contact Alexandra Bradley or Honey Luard on 020 7930 5373.
44 Duke Street, St James's, London SW1Y 6DD