||The "Deutsche Bank Series at the Guggenheim" began in 2009 with Anish Kapoor’s spectacular sculpture Memory. Now the series is being continued with Julie Mehretu’s painting cycle Grey Area. Within the framework of this project, the New York Guggenheim Museum is presenting commissioned works and exhibitions that were premiered at the Deutsche Guggenheim. Mehretu executed her large canvases in the city where they were shown first in 2009 – Berlin. The artist, who was born in Ethiopia in 1970, spent two and a half years working on the large-scale canvases, temporarily relocating her studio from New York to Berlin, the city that inspired the series. In the painting Berliner Plätze (Berlin Plazas) (2008–09), gestural areas are superimposed with abstract and architectonic forms to create a kaleidoscopic panorama of Berlin and its history. Believer’s Palace (2008-09), on the other hand, focuses on the war in Iraq. The palace in the center of Baghdad served primarily as a camouflage for the bunker situated beneath it, which Saddam Hussein had installed in the early 1980s.
Julie Mehretu’s works, which are multilayered in the truest sense of the word, are hybrids of drawing and painting. Branching-off filigree lines meet cloud-like bundles; hard-edged surfaces overlay lattice-like structures. When the viewer approaches the works, urban images can be deciphered: fragments of buildings, street blocks, building fronts, city maps. Mehretu erases individual passages of her paintings and subsequently reworks the gray blurs. In a kind of archeological reconstruction, the viewer experiences the urban spaces in Julie Mehretu’s paintings as scenarios in which both war and traces of the past have inscribed themselves.
The Deutsche Bank Series at the Guggenheim
Julie Mehretu: Grey Area
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York
May 14 – October 6, 2010