The contemporary urban experience takes centre stage in a new exhibition by Julie Mehretu at White Cube Bermondsey. This is the first major solo show in London for the Ethiopian-born artist and will feature new and recent works. Mehretu is best known for her large-scale layered paintings built up through acrylic, pen, pencil and ink on canvas that combine architectural imagery with abstract forms – and this show does not disappoint. Works at the White Cube stretch from floor to ceiling.
Central to Liminal Squared is Mogamma – a group of paintings made by Mehretu in response to the Arab Spring of 2011. The title for the works takes its name from the Al-Mogamma government building in Tahir Square, Cairo. The word mogamma also means ‘collective’ in Arabic and is used in reference to a multi-faith site that shares a mosque, synagogue and church. The intersection of politics and architecture, particularly in the urban environment – and the impact on the formation of a communal identity, is a theme that Mehretu has returned to in her practice.
Recently on show at dOCUMENTA (13), the Mogamma works combine drawing, geometric forms and bold colours with images of urban squares from around the world that have been rallying points for revolution. Displayed on specially constructed partitions rather than the walls of the White Cube – the presentation of these enormous paintings (a collaboration between architect David Adjaye and Mehretu) is a spectacular sight. The Mogamma canvases are a real highlight of Liminal Squared – visually dynamic and beautifully layered so they are definitely worth a view. (Words: Eri Otite)
Julie Mehretu: Liminal Squared is on at White Cube until 7 July. For more info, visit www.whitecube.com