Marian Goodman Gallery in Paris is currently exhibiting a new series of works by painter and illustrator Julie Mehretu. in a show which Mehretu described as a ‘self-ethnographic project,’ involving a dissection of her identity as an artist through a free abstraction of her personal creative practice. The show is Mehretu’s first solo exhibition in France.
Born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 1970 and raised in Michigan, USA, Mehretu received an MFA in painting and printmaking from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1997. Mehretu has been given the American Art Award from the Whitney Museum in 2005 and was also awarded the MacArthur Fellows award that same year. Her series of large-scale paintings, titled Grey Area have also been on display at the Guggenheim Museums in Berlin and New York City.
For Mind Breath and Beat Drawings, Mehretu has completed sixteen black graphite drawings on white paper, eleven ink paintings on canvas, and five etchings. Best known for her large-scale paintings of maps and city plans, Mehretu’s interest in geography extends in this exhibition to what she calls “psychogeographies,” referring to an idea that “within an invisible and invented creative space, the individual can tap a resource of self-determination and resistance.”
Mehretu’s work often implements ample layering and deconstruction, including eraser marks and illustrated omissions or amendments to the original plans, occasionally painting lines in clear acrylic to achieve an aesthetic of structured spontaneity. In the past, her work has involved the concept of architecture as a reflection of political ideals and institutions – architecture as an agent not only of space, but also as creator of “spaces of power.”
Here, Mehretu turns her stylistic approach inwards, translating a certain aesthetic sensibility to canvas and paper through an intuitive practice of graphite mark making. As opposed to her structure-oriented, architectural works, these pieces approach a far more interpretive encounter with the page. Working against rigidly defined external spaces, Mehretu seeks to create a space dictated by her own internal logic, and brought to form on paper.
Mehretu has continued to turn heads in the global art world. At last year’s dOCUMENTA (13), Mehretu showcased four large-scale paintings in a series titled Mogamma, which is a word that refers to an interfaith site including a mosque, synagogue and church, and is also the name of a large government building in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, which was built to symbolize a westernized, centralized government.
The exhibition Mind Breath and Beat Drawings will continue through March 16th, 2013.
Julie Mehretu, Mind Breath and Beat Drawings (Installation View), via Marian Goodman
Exhibition Page [Marian Goodman Gallery]