Julie Mehretu is curated by Christine Y. Kim, curator of contemporary art at LACMA, with Rujeko Hockley, assistant curator at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Following its presentation at LACMA, the exhibition will travel to the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY (June 26–September 20, 2020); the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA (October 24, 2020–January 31, 2021); and the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN (March 13–July 11, 2021).
“LACMA is very pleased to present this mid-career survey of the artist Julie Mehretu,” said Michael Govan, LACMA CEO and Wallis Annenberg Director. “Mehretu’s work acknowledges history as she draws on past media clippings, Paleolithic cave etchings, non-Western artifacts, architectural renderings, and Eastern calligraphy, which resonate with the images and objects that constitute LACMA’s encyclopedic holdings.”
“Mehretu’s unique form of abstraction is connected to a deep meditation at the crossroads of mapping social and political sites and actions, shifting points of entry, new visual languages, mediated images, and corporeality. Her compositions are at once all-encompassing and destabilizing, offering a radical incoherence, which can trigger multiple experiences and senses,” said Christine Y. Kim. “This exhibition lays out this development, articulation, and connectivity of her work over the past 23 years.”
Exhibition Organization and HIghlights
Julie Mehretu is organized in loose chronological order: 37 of the 39 works on paper will be located on the bridge of BCAM, Level 3; and 35 paintings will be on view in BCAM, Level 1 and BCAM, Level 3. The exhibition will also feature GDGDA (2011) on BCAM, Level 3, a film on Mehretu by the artist Tacita Dean.
Mehretu has worked in printmaking since she was a graduate student. The BCAM, Level 3 bridge explores the artist’s methodical process of making prints, which includes decisions about line, weight, color, and layering, and further informs her painting practice. While painters often use drawing as a preliminary tool, Mehretu insists that the conventions of her applied drawing remain exposed, a practice that extends from her drawings to printmaking, and from collage to canvas. These works on paper range in medium, and include collage, watercolor, ink, graphite, and colored pencil on paper and Mylar, as well as etching, aquatint, and engraving.
The galleries in BCAM, Level 1 and BCAM Level 3 present the artist’s work in painting from 1996 to the present. For Mehretu, painting begins with drawing. She develops the works by incorporating techniques such as printing, masking, digital collage, erasure, and painterly abstraction. Mehretu is inspired by a variety of sources, from cave incisings, cartography, and Chinese calligraphy to architectural renderings, graffiti, and news photography. Drawing on this vast archive, Mehretu reformulates notions of how realities of the past and present shape human consciousness.