Julie Mehretu: Drawing into Painting

Julie Mehretu: Drawing into Painting

Opening reception: May 27, 7-10 pm

Artist talk: Sunday, May 30, 3 pm

Julie Mehretu's language of abstraction borrows from real and imagined geography, architecture, history, mapping and photojournalism to navigate the unstable terrain of what she has identified as "a narrative filled with urgency and optimism, like a strange dream." The underlying structure of Mehretu's work consists of charged public spaces -- government buildings, museums, stadiums, schools and airports -- drawn in the form of maps and diagrams. Into these now decontextualized, highly controlled spaces the artist inscribes her own narrative through the incorporation of personal markings within layers of Mylar, vellum and paper. "I am interested in the multifaceted layers of place, space and time that impact the formation of personal and community identity," the artist has explained. Julie Mehretu: Drawing into Painting features 12 paintings completed in 2003. According to exhibition curator Douglas Fogle, "Julie Mehretu attempts to put the world into the world. At the onset of a millennium defined by the twin forces of globalization and the legacy of September 11, she is producing a new form of history painting. Her sources range from the geometric abstractions and revolutionary utopian impulses of Kasimir Malevich, Piet Mondrian and Wassily Kandinsky to the iconographic contours of contemporary skateboard graphics and tattoos, comic books, institutional architectural schematics, and news photographs of riots and uprisings. Filtering these strands through her highly idiosyncratic lexicon of signs and symbols, she creates synthetic worlds in which historical and fictional landscapes collide." Mehretu's work has been presented in numerous exhibitions, including Freestyle (2001) at The Studio Museum in Harlem, Painting at the Edge of the World (2001) at the Walker Art Center, and the 2004 Whitney Biennial.

Julie Mehretu: Drawing into Painting is organized by the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis. It is made possible by generous support from the Voyager Foundation Fund of the Minneapolis Foundation.

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