Julie Mehretu’s starting point are the city and its architecture. Particularly its condensed, densely populated metropolitan environs. In her paintings, she combines different architectural components like columns, façades, and arcades with geographical schema like charts, building plans, city maps, and depictions of architecture seen from multiple perspectives, concurrently aerial, cross-sectional, and isometric.
Images of cities are flattened and combined with numerous layers of urban graffiti. The paintings are like maps of a nonexisting world.
The large-scale, gestural paintings that she makes are created using acrylic paint layers on canvas and mark-making in pencil, pen, ink, and thick streams of paint. Mehretu’s work combines allusions to prior art styles, ranging from the intensity of the Italian Futurists and Malevich’s geometric abstraction to the enormous scale of Abstract Expressionist colour field paintings.