Monday, 14 May 2012

In the dreams of the Cartographer - Julie Mehretu

These complex densely layered abstract works from Julie Mehretu are both beautiful and captivating. Utilising architectural drawing in a fascinating way she creates unusual spaces that echo the marks of a master cartographer, yet they are of no real place. They are remarkable and compelling, drawing us into worlds that appear to have traces of an intense history.

The artist herself speaks on work ‘I think of my abstract mark-making as a type of sign lexicon, signifier, or language for characters that hold identity and have social agency. The characters in my maps plotted, journeyed, evolved, and built civilisations. I charted, analyzed, and mapped their experience and development: their cities, their suburbs, their conflicts, and their wars. The paintings occurred in an intangible no-place: a blank terrain, an abstracted map space. As I continued to work I needed a context for the marks, the characters. By combining many types of architectural plans and drawings I tried to create a metaphoric, tectonic view of structural history. I wanted to bring my drawing into time and place.’

One could draw parallels with the art of the Australian aborigines, where landscape and terrain is deeply interwoven into consciousness, and drawing and mark making is used to illuminate the narrative of the land. 

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