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Julie Mehretu

Julie Mehretu

by alexandra • September 15

I first came across the work of Julie Mehretu in my first drawing class in college. I then saw her speak at the RISD auditorium. She seemed so at ease coming back to her old stomping ground, standing up there at the podium talking about her work. Finally I had the chance to see her paintings face to face at the Guggenheim this past summer. Layers of charcoal marks, paint and architectural drawings overlap to create a dynamic landscape. The complexity and layers allows your mind to create your own perception of her work. Her mark making is so gestural, yet so carefully considered and placed in her compositions. From standing several feet away, looking at her enormous painting of about 9 feet by 12 feet, my imagination fills in the gaps and I continue to see something new every time I look at it. New buildings emerge from this mass of layered marks. It is not until I step right up to the painting, that I can see the fine detail, and how beautiful just a small cropping of that painting could be.

Her paintings capture the heart of a big city like New York. The energy and emotion in her gestural movements, the mass and layers of shapes and smudges, all remind me of a massive influx of traffic swarming through the tall buildings of what I call home. Julie creates perfection through the freedom of being imperfect. I hope you have a chance to see her work!