In her large-scale paper works,
explores architecture, mapping, and urban landscape: all pertinent themes, given that the globetrotting Ethiopian-American artist was born in Addis Ababa, studied in Dakar and Providence, was artist-in-residence in Harlem, and lives in Berlin. Through May 16th, her work is on view at San Francisco’s John Berggruen Gallery
Mehretu knows a thing or two about coming and going, and about the experience of looking back on a place once you’ve left it. She’s described her work as “story maps of no location”—images of places that she can’t name or point to on a map, but that are embedded in her mind nonetheless, overlapping with the memories of other places where she’s lived, worked, and traveled. What is memory, anyway, her layered abstract works seem to suggest, but a dense and shifting collection of sensory impressions? And what is a city, any city, but a beehive whose form is only perceptible from far away, whose scale is only comprehensible when you’re looking back through the airplane window?