Mogamma (A Painting in Four Parts) (Part II)
Julie Mehretu (American, born Ethiopia, 1970)
Mogamma (A Painting in Four Parts) (Part II), 2012,
ink and acrylic on canvas, purchase with funds from Alfred
Austell Thornton in memory of Leila Austell Thornton and Albert
Edward Thornton, Sr., and Sarah Miller Venable and William Hoyt
Venable, David C. Driskell African American Art Acquisition Fund,
Dr. Lurton Massie Jr. Endowment for Contemporary Art, The Blonder
Family Acquisition Endowment Fund, Robert O. Breitling, Jr.,
Acquisition Endowment Fund, and through prior acquisitions, 2013.31
Recently acquired by the High and now on view is this major new painting by Julie Mehretu titled Mogamma (A Painting in Four Parts) (Part II), 2012.
The painting is the second panel in a four-part cycle of large canvases (each 15 feet by 12 feet) and was inspired by the events of the Arab Spring. Its title, "Mogamma," refers to the government building just south of Tahrir Square in Cairo. Mehretu is interested in the public square as a social hub where cultural and political changes happen and in what the surrounding architecture communicates to the public—be it notions of progress (modernism) or authority (Neoclassicism).
The painting includes overlapping architectural renderings of buildings in Tripoli, Cairo, and other sites of social gathering in the Middle East and North Africa where uprisings have occurred. Layers of energetic marks made with ink overtop the architectural drawings evoke turbulence and suggest the collective power of social movements. They look like flocks of birds, or crowds of people, and seem to give shape to patterns of migration and diasporic populations. Sweeping lines and silkscreened patterns based on the region's architectural ornaments also lend to the painting a sense of dynamism and urgency.
Mehretu emerged as a young artist of note at the Studio Museum in Harlem where she was artist-in-residence in 2001. She later was awarded the Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant in 2003 and named a recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship in 2005.
On view in the Wieland Pavilion, Skyway Level galleries.
About Julie Mehretu
Julie Mehretu was born in 1970 in Addis Abada, Ethiopia to an Ethiopian college professor and an American teacher. They fled Ethiopia in 1977 during the Ethiopian-Somali War and moved to East Lansing, Mich. Mehretu received a bachelor's degree from Kalamazoo College and a Master of Fine Arts degree from the Rhode Island School of Design with a focus on painting and printmaking. She received the Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grants to Artists Award in 2000, a Joan Mitchell Foundation grant in 2003 and was a recipient of a MacArthur "Genius" Fellowship in 2005. She is known for her large-scale paintings and drawings and for her technique of layering pictorial elements using a variety of media including graphite, ink and bright planes of acrylic color. Her canvases juxtapose architectural renderings and features with different geographical schema such as charts, building plans and city maps. She has exhibited in several important group exhibitions including: the 8th Istanbul Biennial, the Whitney Biennial, the São Paolo Biennial, the Biennale of Sydney, and "From Picasso to Julie Mehretu," at the British Museum, London, among others. Solo exhibitions of her work have been organized by the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; the St Louis Art Museum; Detroit Institute of Art; and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, among others. Julie Mehretu lives and works in New York City.