Tuesday, May 21, 2013

NEW YORK: Julie Mehertu

Image via mariangoodman.com.

Liminal Squared
May 11 - June 22, 2013
24 West 57th Street
New York, NY

Press Release | Marian Goodman Gallery:

Liminal Squared is the inaugural exhibition of Julie Mehretu’s work at the Marian Goodman Gallery in New York.  

A series of new paintings will be on view as well as a suite of five new etchings. The works were created over the past three years in New York in the aftermath of events of the Arab Spring which were the point of departure for the monumentally scaled “Mogamma: A Painting in Four Parts”, 2012, recently presented at dOCUMENTA (13), 2012, Kassel. They follow a group exhibition “In Praise of Doubt” at Punta dell Dogana, Venice in 2011; and a recent presentation of her Mind Breath and Beat Drawings at our Paris space in January-March 2013.

Concurrent with Liminal Squared, “Mogamma: A Painting in Four Parts” and other recent works will be presented in a partner exhibition across the Atlantic, at White Cube Bermondsey, London on view May 1 – July 7, 2013.

A catalogue Liminal Squared, with color reproductions and essays by TJ Demos and Tacita Dean, will be published this summer, on the occasion of the joint exhibitions at Marian Goodman Gallery and White Cube.

Julie Mehretu’s paintings are structured through layers of clear acrylic, architectural tracings, drawing, ink, graphite, erasure and mark-making. The works are built up in stages with additive elements generating, erasing, or re-inscribing the previous. Culled from archival sources, with architectural structures serving as a foundation for her renderings--- from ancient city plans, civic buildings, urban designs, public squares, tombs, palaces, ruins – the paintings combine meticulous graphic drawing with spontaneous gesture. Mehretu begins with the premise of architecture as a medium of social history and power and proceeds to imagine a new present, a fictional topography realized through a formal vocabulary of line, color, gesture, markings, grids, characters, swarms, blurs, washes, which are overlaid and stratified on the surface of the canvas. In exploring palimpsests of history, from geological time to a modern day phenomenology of the social, the works engage us in a dynamic visual articulation of contemporary experience, a depiction of social behavior and the psychogeography of space. She states:

“I am interested in ways to picture or map [civilization] … weaving in and out of functioning, resistance, understanding. I am interested in the potential of ‘psychogeographies’, which suggests that within an invisible and invented creative space the individual can tap a resource of self-determination and resistance. […] This impulse is a major generating force in my drawing and my larger conceptual project as a painter.”

Her meditation on subject matter, whether a spontaneous uprising in a revolutionary square, an algorithm of behavior of the everyday workplace, or post-human culture as it mutates towards the machine, is mirrored in a complex and personal lexicon of painting, a uniquely individual language that ruminates, in a mimetic way, on the swarming, morphing cosmology that is our historical moment, ever persistent in its process of becoming, ever mutating on a precipice of change.

It is in this space of the liminal – literally, threshold – the stage of standing on the verge between one’s previous way of structuring identity, time, or community and a new way-- that her new body of work has developed. In the new works, one witnesses the exploration of a new language of abstraction, embracing entropy, resistance, and the imperatives of social agency as they coalesce towards the inchoate nexus of collective history.

As TJ Demos writes in a forthcoming essay, “Painting and Uprising: Julie Mehretu’s Third Space”:

The paintings’ system of architectural drawings, the various marks and vectors, in this sense, don’t map out a single space, geopolitical context, revolutionary history, or continuous surface, and they don’t propose an image of a coherent spatiotemporal location. Rather, they construct what Mehretu herself calls a “third space,” a term that provocatively designates the visual relations between architecture and gesture, between representation and abstraction, a relationality that remains productively uncertain….. Mehretu’s is no neo-Futurist attempt to portray the vitalism of urban space. Instead these are visualizations that open up a third space of potentiality…. the various elements—multitudes, architectures, revolutionary histories, lines of flight—take on indeterminate relations to one another, where there is no shared or unified temporality, and similarly no predictability or final determination. Their resolution remains a future potential but present impossibility.

Julie Mehretu was born in 1970 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and raised in Michigan, USA. She studied at Kalamazoo College in Michigan (BA, 1992) and at the Université Cheikh Anta Diop in Dakar, Senegal (1990–91). She received an MFA in painting and printmaking from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1997. Mehretu has participated in numerous international exhibitions and biennials and has received international recognition for her work, including, in 2005, the American Art Award from the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, and the prestigious MacArthur Fellows award. In 2009 and 2010 Mehretu exhibited a cycle of large paintings in Julie Mehretu: Grey Area at the Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin, which then travelled to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York.

Read entire press release for Julie Mehretu: Liminal Squared here.

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