Julie Mehretu (born 1970 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia) is an artist, best known for her densely layered abstract paintings and prints. She is best known for her large-scale paintings that take the abstract energy, topography, and sensibility of global urban landscapes as a source of inspiration.
Mehretu is known for her large-scale paintings and drawings and her technique of layering different elements and media. Her paintings are built up through layers of acrylic paint on canvas overlaid with mark-making using pencil, pen, ink and thick streams of paint. Her canvases overlay different architectural features such as columns, façades and porticoes with different geographical schema such as charts, building plans and city maps and architectural renderings for stadiums, international airports, and other public gathering hubs, seen from different perspectives, at once aerial, cross-section and isometric. Her drawings are preparatory to her large paintings, and sometimes interim between paintings.
What I’m really focused on and trying to go after in my work is not necessarily being informed by other artist’s work. It’s about trying to understand myself. I keep going back to that, digging deeper into who I am. You have all this experience that determines who you are, and you can’t change that too much. You know you can only get to know yourself better, understand yourself better, and evolve and try to grow. That’s how I am with my work—trying to push and understand what I make and why I make it the way that I do. Why the fascination with certain materials? (art21.com)