Layers of ink, splashes of colour and densely layered cities.
Julie Mehretu’s paintings stretch from floor to ceiling – Liminal Squared centres around ‘Mogamma: A Painting in Four Parts’, the collective name for four monumental canvases that were recently included in dOCUMENTA (13).
Mogamma is a government building in Cairo and translates to ‘collective’ in Arabic.
This series has evolved from Mehretu’s investigations into architecture and geographical space – specifically in regards to space and power.
David Adjaye has constructed an environment dislocating the sterile walls of the White Cube in exchange for subtle grey partitions. Creating an inspiring, museum-like setting, a calming cocoon for Mehretu’s chaotic grids and fragmented architectural sprawls.
Mehretu is interested in the way ‘architecture reflects the machinations of politics.’
From a distance the sheer scale of these paintings is overwhelming; Mehretu has layered hundreds of images taken from different squares around the world, arcs of colour and indistinct clouds – producing a mechanised impression of the contemporary urban experience – a transient vision of cities receding and new structures emerging.
Power, space and politics feature heavily in these abstracted amalgamations of city sprawl.
Julie Mehretuu, ‘Liminal Squared’, White Cube Bermondsey, London, © Julie Mehretu, Photo: Ben Westoby, Courtesy White Cube
Julie Mehretu, Sehkmet, 2001-2013, Ink and acrylic on canvas, 152.4 x 213.4 cm, © the artist, Photo: Edouard Fraipont, Courtesy White Cube
Julie Mehretu, Mogamma: Part 2, 2012, Ink and acrylic on canvas, 457.2 x 365.8 cm, © the artist, Photo: Ben Westoby, Courtesy White Cube
-Helen D. Cogswell