Julie Mehretu

This hugely influential Ethiopian-American artist has changed the game for abstract painting. Her epic, monumental works are based on real, historical events.

How do you make art about something as violent as Ferguson?

These paintings may not look political, but they are based on very real events – Charlottesville, right-wing extremism and police brutality.

As a refugee from the Ethiopian civil war in the ‘70s, Julie Mehretu is no stranger to violence and the impact it has on the world.

Her epic paintings depict violence through the traces it leaves behind – like tear gas stains and fragmented memories.

This mark-making style offers a new way of representing violence, that’s graphic and emotive without being explicit.

Julie’s paintings capture a complex collective story of oppression, questioning how violence is represented and who it impacts the most.

Line drawings on cream back ground with pale blue accents

Palimpsest (old gods), 2006

Abstract painting in dark greys, purples with accents of blue and green

Conjured parts (eye) Ferguson, 2016

Abstract image of scribbles in blues, purples, browns and yellows

Second Seal (R 6:3), 2020

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