As the first art institution in Germany, the Kunstverein Hannover is presenting a solo exhibition with works by the Ethiopian-born New York painter Julie Mehretu (born 1970). This still young artist has already participated in important international exhibitions including shows at the Walker Art Center Minneapolis, the Whitney Museum, P.S. 1. Contemporary Arts Center and the Museum of Modern Art New York as well as the Biennales in Istanbul and Sydney. The present exhibition, which has been organized in conjunction with the MUSAC in León und the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humblebæk, Copenhagen, encompasses 18 recent large-format works as well as several smaller drawings produced especially for the Kunstverein Hannover.
Mehretu derives her motives from a wide range of sources: she combines elements of her own biography with socio-political conditions as well as fictional stories on large overlapping multi-layered levels of signs. This cluster comprising drawings and paintings which simultaneously represent the microcosm and the macrocosm, recalls maps and global structures as well as timelines on which historical stratums overlap each other. Mehretu's affinity for the Baroque, for example, is legible in many ways. Not only do her fine chiaroscuro hatchings (Transients, 2006) recall 18th century engravings, but the architectural pictorial elements and plane-like spaces, which - contrary to the spatial concepts of central perspective - also enable a non-lineal deliberation of history and the future. Surreal motives can also be found in her works that often seem like the pictorial realization of an unconscious flow of thoughts.
At the same time, the artist's works are quite relevant to modern times and critical of society. For Mehretu, producing art means social commitment: current questions, statements of political resistance and demands for equality by minorities flow on a contextual level in equal measures into her works as do the components of our contemporary culture that surface in her pictorial universe by means of their comic-like outline drawings on a formal level. Consequentially, Arcade (2005), for example, places less emphasis on the search for the ideal world of an Arcadian nature. It appears rather as a metaphor for the urban structures of present-day metropolises based on the descriptions of early 20th century flaneurs and extended to include such multifaceted visual and infrastructural present-day influences as music, traffic, and international (information) exchange.
Mehretu preferably works in large formats that create a suggestive dialectic of long-sightedness and close-sightedness that utterly draw the viewer into the picture the closer he approaches it. The artist described this suction as follows: "it is as if you look at a city map, see the structure and enter ever deeper into the city and start to live in it." The Julie Mehretu exhibition is generously supported by: Niedersächsische Lottostiftung, Supported by funds from the State of Lower Saxony. The Hannover Office of Cultural Affairs supports the Kunstverein.
A catalogue will accompany the exhibition.
Press conference: February 8, 11 a.m.
Opening: February 9, 8 p.m.
Talk with the artist: February 10, 6 p.m.
Sophienstraße 2 - Hannover