Julie Mehretu was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and lives and works in New York City. She received a Master’s of Fine Art with honors from The Rhode Island School of Design, and studied at Kalamazoo College, and University Cheik Anta Diop in Dakar, Senegal. Mehretu’s works engage us in a dynamic visual articulation of contemporary experience, a depiction of social behavior and the psychogeography of space.
Culled from archival sources-from ancient city plans, civic buildings, urban designs, public squares, tombs, palaces, ruins, etc. her 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.
Mehretu is a recipient of many awards, including The MacArthur Genius Grant in 2005. In 2015 she was awarded the US Department of State Medal of Arts Award. An important mid-career survey of Mehretu’s work opened in 2019 at Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, California and will travel to the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, opening June 2020.