Happy birthday to #BroadCollection artist Julie Mehretu! The Ethiopian-born, New York-based painter and printmaker produces her works much in the way a city gathers its memories. She starts each painting with a geometric structure that serves as the basic anchor and organization for the image. From that point on, Mehretu’s method is intuitive: she adds and subtracts images and drawings according to how she envisions the painting’s resolution. These actions are the literal history of Mehretu’s process—some marks exist in the completed work, other marks appear only as ghosts or memories that have partially disappeared. The highly worked, finished piece acts as a timeline of weather and events, as if it is the unexpected result of the original geometry, the outcome of something that did not quite go according to plan.
In the Conjured Parts series, the artist titles paintings by pairing various body parts such as “heart” and “head” with places such as Aleppo and Homs in Syria, suggesting both physical experiences and sites of political strife. Conjured Parts (eye), Ferguson (2016) is an abstract painting composed of gestural marks and lines of muted colors. Beginning with a photograph from Ferguson, Missouri, Mehretu blurs and layers ink and paint to the point of complete abstraction, leaving no pictorial cue of the tragic event it reflects. Instead, what remains is a feeling, an experience, and an association through language.
Find this work and others #OnViewNow in our central gallery on the third floor.
#JulieMehretu, Conjured Parts (eye), Ferguson, 2016. Ink and acrylic on canvas. © Julie Mehretu, Photo by Cathy Carver. Congress, 2003. Ink and acrylic on canvas. © Julie Mehretu. Invisible Sun (algorithm 8, fable form), 2015. Ink and acrylic on canvas. © Julie Mehretu, Tom Powel Imaging. Cairo, 2013. Ink and acrylic on canvas. © Julie Mehretu