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Episode #106: Julie Mehretu puts the finishing touches on her large-scale painting Mural at Goldman Sachs, adjusting shapes and colors in dialogue with the architecture and views from the street. Be sure to check out our recent videos of Mural narrated by the artist’s studio assistants (Episode #097) and painting conservator Luca Bonetti (Episode #101).
Julie Mehretu’s paintings and drawings refer to elements of mapping and architecture, achieving a calligraphic complexity that resembles turbulent atmospheres and dense social networks. Architectural renderings and aerial views of urban grids enter the work as fragments, losing their real-world specificity and challenging narrow geographic and cultural readings. The paintings’ wax-like surfaces—built up over weeks and months in thin translucent layers—have a luminous warmth and spatial depth, with formal qualities of light and space made all the more complex by Mehretu’s delicate depictions of fire, explosions, and perspectives in both two and three dimensions. Her works engage the history of nonobjective art—from Constructivism to Futurism—posing contemporary questions about the relationship between utopian impulses and abstraction.
Opening Today: An exhibition of recent works as part of the exhibition Julie Mehretu: Grey Area at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York (through October 6, 2010). The 15th in a series of commissions by Deutsche Bank and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, the works were inspired by Mehretu’s time spent in Berlin.