Julie Mehretu, Conjured Parts (Syria), Aleppo and Damascus (2016). Ink and acrylic on canvas. 60 × 120 1/4 inches. Courtesy the artist and Marian Goodman Gallery © Julie Mehretu. Photo: Tom Powel Imaging.
On the occasion of her current exhibition at Kettle's Yard, Julie Mehretu spoke with me about her work from the past two decades. The images she has been creating during this time, in the form of paintings and drawings, consider the world we live in today through references to cities, architectural sites, geo-political events, and histories. She shows us an urban landscape that is dynamic and chaotic; constantly in motion. Simultaneously, Mehretu's fascination with mark-making, and her commitment to drawing as an intuitive force, is vital to how she functions as an artist and to what she makes.
Mehretu was born in Addis Ababa in 1970 to an Ethiopian father and an American mother. She grew up in East Lansing, Michigan, and now lives in New York. The following conversation took place over the course of a day in London, in October of last year, when an exhibition of Mehretu's paintings was on display at White Cube.