Press Release

The Walker Art Center will be the final stop on a national tour of the exhibition Julie Mehretu, the first-ever comprehensive retrospective on the artist’s work. Born in 1970 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and based in New York, Mehretu is best known for abstract paintings layered with a variety of materials, marks, and meanings. Her canvases and works on paper reference the histories of art, architecture, and past civilizations while addressing some of the most immediate conditions of our contemporary moment, including migration, revolution, climate change, global capitalism, and technology.



International exhibitions

International Archives 2nd half of 2021

Julie Mehretu

Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (United States)

16.10.2021 - 06.03.2022




The Sea Art Festival : Non-Human/Assemblages, Ilwgang Beach, South Korea

© ArtCatalyse International / Marika Prévosto 2021. All Rights Reserved

Exhibition 16 october 2021 - 06 March 2022. Walker Art Center, 725 Vineland Place - Minneapolis, MN 55403 (United States). T +1 612 375 7600. Hours: Thursday 11am–9pm, Friday–Saturday 11am–8pm.







Featuring more than 60 paintings and works on paper from 1996 to the present, this midcareer survey reflects the breadth of Mehretu’s multilayered practice, which moves nimbly across mediums, scale, and subject matter. The presentation covers a broad arc of Mehretu’s artistic evolution, revealing her early focus on drawing, graphics, and mapping and her more recent introduction of bold gestures, sweeps of saturated color, and figurative elements into her immersive, large-scale works.

Mehretu’s paintings often begin with a process of drawing; she then develops the works by layering techniques such as printing, digital collage, erasure, and painterly abstraction. She is inspired by a variety of sources, including cave paintings, cartography, 17th-century landscape etchings, architectural renderings, graffiti, and, in her most recent work, news photographs of world events. Drawing on this vast archive, she explores how realities of the past and present can shape human consciousness. Mehretu sees her commitment to abstraction—and its relationship to freedom—as a means of having agency as an artist. Through her work, she has framed social uprisings, including the Arab Spring, Black Lives Matter, and Occupy Wall Street, as well as specific events like the police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri; wildfires in California; and the burning of Rohingya villages in Myanmar. At its core, Mehretu’s art is invested in lived experiences, giving powerful visual form to both the past and our current moment. As the artist says, her visual language represents how “history is made: one layer on top of another, erasing itself, consuming itself, inventing something else from the same thing.”

Curatorial team
Christine Y. Kim, Curator of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art; with Rujeko Hockley, Arnhold Associate Curator, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. The Walker’s presentation is coordinated by Siri Engberg, Senior Curator and Director, Visual Arts.

Julie Mehretu, Retopistics: A Renegade Evacuation, 2001. Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas. © Julie Mehretu. Photo: Erma Estwick.

Julie Mehretu, Retopistics: A Renegade Evacuation, 2001. Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas. © Julie Mehretu. Photo: Erma Estwick.