TORONTO — Today the Art Gallery of Ontario announces the Toronto debut of Algorithms, Apparitions and Translations (2013), a suite of five etchings by Ethiopian born, American-based artist Julie Mehretu (b. 1970). One half of a new exhibition of works on paper from the AGO Collection entitled Migrations of Line, they will be displayed in Mulvihill Gallery on Level 1 alongside a series of 25 prints by the 17th-century French engraver Antoinette Bouzonnet-Stella (b. 1641). Opening on Nov. 7, 2020, this unique exhibition brings into dialogue two artists, centuries and continents apart, who used printmaking techniques to create dynamic artwork in series.
Combining a variety of printmaking techniques, including etching, aquatint, spit-bite, soft-ground, drypoint and engraving, Mehretu’s large-scale works on paper depict a series of abstracted landscapes. In shades of grey graphite, with occasional strokes of orange, Mehretu layers lines, scratches and feathery marks to remind the viewer of the human impact on place and community.
Born in Ethiopia in 1970, Julie Mehretu immigrated with her family to the United States at the age of seven to escape political unrest. Mehretu uses her work to explore the topic of migration, drawing on her own experience and that of countless others. Speaking about her work in 2003, Mehretu said she aims to create ‘a picture that appears one way from a distance – almost like looking at a cosmology, city, or universe from afar’ but then ‘shatters into numerous other pictures, stories and events’ as you approach it. Algorithms, Apparitions and Translations (2013) was recently acquired by the AGO, with the generous support of the Trier-Fodor Fund.
Migrations of Line is curated by the AGO’s Associate Curator and R. Fraser Elliott Chair, Prints & Drawings, Alexa Greist, and is on view until May 31, 2021.
“Julie Mehretu draws inspiration from a wide range of sources, including archival photographs, urban planning grids, comics, Chinese and Japanese calligraphy, graffiti, and modernist art and architecture. Her work, like Antoinette Bouzonnet-Stella’s reproductions of Renaissance relief sculpture, bring to life the intersection of power, history and architecture,” says Greist. “Printmaking is unique in its ability for the artist to render each line—each gesture—visible. These two artists prove how powerful the medium can be.”
Around 1654, at a time when women had little hope of higher learning, let alone a profession, Antoinette Bouzonnet-Stella left Lyon, France, for Paris to find work for herself and her three siblings. The offspring of an accomplished goldsmith, the Bouzonnet-Stella children were educated at home in drawing, painting, and engraving. Antoinette and her sister Claudine became the most successful of the siblings. Migrations of Line features The Entry of the Emperor Sigismund into Mantua (1675), a series of 25 engravings that Bouzonnet-Stella was commissioned to produce for King Louis XIV’s minister of finance. These prints capture in incredible detail a 16th-century stucco frieze from the Palazzo del Te in Mantua, Italy, by Renaissance artists Giulio Romano and Francesco Primaticcio.
Admission to Migrations of Line is free for AGO Members, AGO Annual Pass holders and visitors aged 25 and under. For more information, and to book timed-entry tickets, visit www.ago.ca.
ABOUT JULIE MEHRETU
Julie Mehretu (Ethiopian/American, b.1970) is an Abstract printmaker and painter. She was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and moved to Michigan with her family in 1977. She began her education at the University Cheikh Anta Diop in Dakar, and then went on to earn a BA in Art from Kalamazoo College, and a MFA from the Rhode Island School of Art and Design in 1997. Mehretu has lived and worked in New York, NY, since beginning her career in 1999, but she also has a studio in Berlin that she uses for part of each year. She produces large scale prints, drawings, and paintings that use heavy layering to create Abstract imagery from patterns and architectural photographs.
ABOUT ANTOINETTE BOUZONNET-STELLA
Antoinette Bouzonnet-Stella was born in Lyon around 1641, the daughter of Étienne Bouzonnet, a goldsmith, and his wife, Madeleine Stella (sister of the artist Jacques Stella). Her siblings included Antoine and Claudine Bouzonnet-Stella. She died in Paris at the age of 35 in 1676, having suffered a fall.
ABOUT THE AGO
Located in Toronto, the Art Gallery of Ontario is one of the largest art museums in North America, attracting approximately one million visitors annually. The AGO Collection of more than 120,000 works of art ranges from cutting-edge contemporary art to significant works by Indigenous and Canadian artists and European masterpieces. The AGO presents wide-ranging exhibitions and programs, including solo exhibitions and acquisitions by diverse and underrepresented artists from around the world. In 2019, the AGO launched a bold new initiative designed to make the museum even more welcoming and accessible with the introduction of free admission for anyone 25 years and under and a $35 annual pass. Visit AGO.ca to learn more.
The AGO is funded in part by the Ontario Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries. Additional operating support is received from the City of Toronto, the Canada Council for the Arts and generous contributions from AGO Members, donors and private-sector partners.
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