September 8–October 13, 2018
1024 N. Western Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90029
Reviewed by Katie Kirk
Maysha Mohamedi’s exhibition, Oar Tatig, features two rooms with 12 paintings of various sizes in her solo show at The Lodge. The use of gesture and inventive mark-making is the through line that threads the work together. The lyrical swoops found in many of the paintings are inspired by her ancestral language, calligraphic Farsi, and a vintage Persian/English illustrated dictionary the artist owns. While the script-like gestures celebrate her Iranian-American identity, the work is also deeply personal. There are hints of the artist as mother, music-lover, and even her previous training in chemistry sprinkled throughout the show.
Mohamedi’s work is full of play—a nod to both an ideology central in Iranian culture and Mohamedi’s diverse studio practice. She invents ways to achieve different types of marks and freely uses materials. In the studio, Mohamedi paints with a long stick intended to obscure the natural movement of her hand. Little plastic army men sometimes serve as stamps on the canvas. In The Hardest Fontanelle, gold glitter, oil and graphite scale the surface of the painting. She also mixes hand-collected tar from the beach in her paint, drawing on her background in the biological sciences.
Her paintings are worlds, full of mischievous narratives—non-linear, culture-crossing, mash-ups of animals, nature, and landscapes. The titles reinforce this fun, party bag experience. They are pulled from fragments of thoughts, songs, veiled confessions and even her children’s suggestions. In Sneaking Into Your House Music, the splotches of paint take form into what looks like a dragon, allowing viewers to try to reconcile the paradoxical image of a sneaking dragon. Another title, Duck Diving Under a Tiny and Indifferent Sun, seems like it could be from a bedtime tale. These moments create a sense of pleasure and humor in the work.
Mohamedi presents an exhibition that is a celebration of the “in between”. It represents a negotiation between two cultures explored through the many dualities in her work. At points it seems like nothing is off limits, but the controlled color pallet brings a formal restraint to the work that keeps things tied together. This allows the viewer to get lost and enjoy the obscurities that each piece generously has to offer.
Images courtesy of Bayley Mizelle, The Lodge