Julie Mehretu was born in 1970 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. In 1997, she graduated in painting from the Rhode Island School of Design, and currently lives and works in New York. Mehretu’s paintings are mainly large canvases on which she applies various layers of acrylic paint. The compression and saturation of her surfaces take inspiration from the densely populated cities typical of the twenty-first century. Her compositions combine architectural forms, superimposed with geometric shapes and a multitude of marks made with pencil, pen and ink. Meheretu describes her works as ‘narrative maps of places that don’t exist’ or representations of imaginary realities in which we recognise traits of the contemporary urban reality, in which spaces are compressed and rhythms are accelerated. The complex weft of overlapping forms, with elements layered ‘as if they were fossils’, presents a reflection on memory and the legacy of past epochs, which still reverberate in the present.
Exhibitions of Mehretu’s work include those held at the Guggenheim Museum, New York (2010), Detroit Institute of Art (2007), Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (2003). Mehretu made two paintings (both called Untitled, 2011) specificallly for the ‘cube’ at Punta della Dogana, which were shown in the exhibition “In Praise of Doubt” (2011-13).