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Maysha Mohamedi and the Athleticism of Painting

Maysha Mohamedi and the Athleticism of Painting

The Los-Angeles-based artist discusses her vivid, abstract paintings that use line and color to investigate the eternal and ongoing conflicts of the self. The artist’s witty titles and intuitive mark-making produce personal and honest works that grab the viewer with evocative color and authentic compositions.

Mark-making and bright colors capture the viewers of Maysha Mohamedi’s large scale paintings. The Los-Angeles-based artist uses paint and sculpture to translate her human experiences as a mother and a woman into abstract, eye-catching dynamic paintings that investigate the abstract essentials of line and color.

As an Iranian-American artist, Maysha uses her cultural identity to dimensionalize her artistic process. She sources materials from the beaches of California (where she lives), as well as tubes of paint from her home country, Iran. One of the most stunning aspects of her work is that Maysha’s artistic process focuses heavily on true emotion and honesty. She expresses this with her process of intuitive mark-making, creating abstract shapes that are true and real to the artist and her inspiration. She is currently working towards her next solo show in Los Angeles.

You first studied Cognitive Science and then earned your MFA in Painting. What inspired you to make the switch from science to art?

After I graduated, I worked in a laboratory for a couple of years while also painting at night. That arrangement wasn’t ideal for supporting a sustained inquiry into either subject. So, I chose to focus on painting because that’s the thing I really loved to do.

What are some of the main ideas or emotions you try to convey in your work?

The ideas that inspire my work stem directly from my experience as a woman/mother/human in this world.

It’s not important that the viewer know my exact intention – though I am generally open about each painting’s story – but I hope the emotive quality gets through to stir a sense of recognition or meaning.

You have spoken before about your unique process of mark-making. Can you describe your work’s focus on individual marks and how you use those marks in your painting process?

My marks are geometric metaphors representing the eternal and ongoing conflicts of the self in the world. I have always sought to find myself in the world through color, line, and materiality.

What has inspired your method and style of painting the most?

Solitude and athleticism.

Being alone helps me hear myself; I need to be able to string together the faintest of impulses in order to decipher what I think and feel through paint.

The athleticism involved in making paintings also serves as an inspiration. At first, I sought to replicate some sensations from my youth – covering the back window of the family car with stickers, smearing a booger somewhere quickly so nobody sees, tracing an imaginary smiley face with my toe onto the wall next to my bed – onto the surfaces of my paintings by pushing, smashing, dragging, and being irregular about my composition just as I would have as a younger person. At this moment in time, my commitment to athleticism outside the studio parallels the lifespan of each painting in a variety of ways. When I swim laps in the pool, or play tennis, I am somehow also making paintings.

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Your titles are very witty and clever such as Fantasy Tennis or Sex in Zion National Park in 2021, how do you come up with those? What inspires them?

I always watch and listen for titles and they arise in a variety of places: a text response to a friend, a factual narration of my actions, some philosophical fragment, an utterance from my 4-year-old, a private wish, or a phrase heard in my dream. A title always arrives in synchrony with the painting.

Who are some women artists that inspire you?

Alma Thomas, Marisol, Sue Williams, Ree Morton, Lauren Satlowski, Lenora de Barros.

What is the most important visual element for you and your work?

Some combination of color, line, and form that keeps my viewer looking for a long time, and coming back to look again.

Are you working on a particular series now? What are you working on next?

I am working on my next solo show in Los Angeles.

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