Julie Mehretu

ETH – USA (1970). Lives and works in New York and Berlin.


Invisible Sun (algorithm 4)
2014. Ink and acrylic on canvas.
303 x 424 cm

Julie Mehretu’s paintings are structured around transparent layers of acrylic paint, architectural carbon copies, drawings, ink, graphite, erasures, and markings. The works are built in stages as elements add to or erase previous layers. Her style is not easily definable; it is almost chaotic, never stable. We are faced with an abstract and ever-changing language that contains hints of graffiti, calligraphy, landscaping, Gothic elements, and other architectural references. In addition, we find tattoos, flags, comic scraps, and other objects, each acting as a separate element within the whole.

Mehretu parts from the premise of architecture as a vehicle for social history and power. She then proceeds to imagine a new present, a fictional topography developed through a formal vocabulary of lines, colors, gestures, marks, squares, characters, clouds, erasures, and blemishes that are dressed up and stratified on the surface of the canvas. Her works invite us to participate in a dynamic visual conception of contemporary existence, a representation of social