Epigraph, Damascus is a major achievement in printmaking for Mehretu, representing a new integration of architectural drawings and painting overlaid with an unprecedented array of marks. Working closely with master printer Niels Borch Jensen, Mehretu used photogravure, a nineteenth-century technique that fuses photography with etching. She built the foundation of the print on a blurred photograph layered with hand-drawn images of buildings in Damascus, Syria, then composited that together with a layer of gestural marks made on large sheets of Mylar. On a second plate, Mehretu executed her characteristic variety of light-handed brushstrokes, innovatively using techniques known as aquatint and open bite. Describing the interplay of architectural details and mark making in this work, Mehretu says, “You have the skeleton of the ghosts of Damascus, and then you have the blur, the haze, or breakdown of the ongoing civil war.”

Short Title
Epigraph, Damascus, 2016
Epigraph, Damascus, 2016

Photogravure, sugar lift aquatint, spit bite aquatint, and open bite on six panels
Edition 13 of 16 + 2 AP
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, gift of Kelvin and Hana Davis through the 2018 Collectors Committee
Printed by BORCH Editions, Copenhagen
© Julie Mehretu

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