These three works comprise Mehretu’s first painting cycle. She made Retopistics (center)—her first large-scale, wide-angled perspective on a dynamic, invented space—by layering various architectural histories, maps, and diagrams of airports and transit. In the artist’s words, it shows “a staircase ascending here, another descending into tops of a tent city there; it’s all drawn diminutively, from multiple perspectives and aerial views, with super, super tiny clusters of civilizations, worlds and cities inside this infrastructure of this other meta-space.” The characters in Renegade Delirium (left) seem to be spinning inside an imploding system, while those in Dispersion (right) are propelled off the edges of the canvas, representing the aftermath of the collapse.

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Retopistics, Renegade Delirium, Dispersion
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