Atmospheric whirls

Stadia II / 2004 / Ink & acrylic on canvas
First Seal (R 6:1 / 6:7), 2020

Julie Mehretu’s works spring from an interest in systems and serve as a direct response to political issues such as war, diaspora and social protest.

“She creates an expression that fuses chaos and order in a structured pattern with loose, abstract gestures. She describes her works as ‘a complex drawn language of marks that behave, battle, migrate and civilize’.

“I am looking for that space where you can’t have that singular, particular experience. It’s about what is undefined, unstable – and for me, that’s important politically.”

Julie Mehretu

Babel Unleashed / Julie Mehretu / 2001 / Ink, acrylic on canvas

Not only that paints are means of colour or emotion, drawings are also a form of a free expression “led by instinct and intuition,” saying by Mehretu, “it opened up a way for me to create work.” The works consisted of drawing with with ink and technical pens, the tools used for map making and architectural drawing. Similar to another artist Sarah Sze, who also use the idea of space in chaotic but systematic, fragmented, yet forming relationship from one to another.

“aerial maps of cities”, and “story maps of no location”, these artworks led to a conceptual way of thinking for Mehretu as she began to liken her process of drawing, layering and moving around to the shifting meta-structures that order our civilisations, considering their implications on the societies that live in them.

key phrases:

incendiary energies

contemporary urban experience


abstract forces of motion

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