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Property to Benefit Art into Acres

Too Young to Go Steady

Too Young to Go Steady
signed and dated 'MAYSHA MOHAMEDI 2023' (on the overlap); signed again and titled 'Too Young to Go Steady / Mohamedi' (on the stretcher)
oil on canvas
73 x 83 in. (185.4 x 210.8 cm.)
Painted in 2023.
Donated by the artist and Pace Gallery, New York

Brought to you by

Kathryn Widing
Kathryn Widing Vice President, Senior Specialist, Head of 21st Century Evening Sale

Lot Essay

Artist Maysha Mohamedi’s practice of abstraction registers conditions specific to her life in Los Angeles in the 21st century. These bits of visual information, crystallized into moments of haptic communion, range from an Ojai, California playground visited by the artist and her family and clippings from magazines, to sea glass found on the shore. Mohamedi’s atmospheric works are reflections of her own thinking. Her immersive works exude a sense of illimitability. For Mohamedi, the viewer is a co-creator in this abstract world. Mohamedi received a Bachelor of Science in 2002 from the University of California, San Diego, where she studied cognitive science, and a Master of Fine Arts in painting from the California College of the Arts in San Francisco in 2011. For Christie’s upcoming 21st Century sale, Mohamedi donated a painting, Too Young to Go Steady (2023), to large-scale land conservation efforts in the United States with the artist-founded nonprofit, Art into Acres. The large abstract work is raising funds that are being matched at 200% from private foundations and will support biodiversity conservation and species migration corridors.

Christie's: The Post-War and Contemporary Art Day Auction on May 12, 2023, features a work of yours, Too Young to Go Steady (2023). Can you tell us about this painting?
Mohamedi: When considering the goal of U.S. land conservation during the inception of this painting, I discovered a link between John Coltrane's song Too Young to Go Steady and my feelings of optimism for America, a young country with the ability and resources to pause, reflect, and course-correct in vital ways.
Christie’s: As a painter based in Los Angeles, what empowered you to donate this painting to the philanthropic purpose of large-scale land conservation in the United States?
Mohamedi: I had read Bill Bradley's autobiography Life on the Run, during which a new dream dropped into my heart to do something patriotic and in line with our country's highest ideals. Shortly thereafter I was introduced to artist Haley Mellin, and the non-profit Art into Acres, finding the right fit for such expression through the donation of my painting.
Christie’s: Your work blends abstraction with resemblances of known forms or alluded shapes. Where do the shapes come from and are you inspired by art history?
Mohamedi: All of my forms are invented in the moment, on the surface of the painting, without any preliminary sketches. I look to art history for affirmation that that which is idiosyncratically human - to engage in a deep inquiry that has nothing to do with the survival of the physical self - is a valid and important act.
Christie’s: Does your background in neuroscience influence your work?
Mohamedi: I previously worked as a neuroscientist in a laboratory setting, but there is no connection to the subject matter of my paintings. My understanding of how the brain processes visual information, however, grants me access to another dimension I utilize when creating a painting. I cannot subtract my understanding of how color and line interact with a viewer's physiology - points of light hit the back of the retina, transforming into the neural math underlying a sensation of having "seen" something - when I create marks on the surface of a painting.
Christie’s: You noted music, John Coltrane's song Too Young to Go Steady. Do you listen to music in the studio? Your work feels like it has a central unseen choreography to it, almost both visual and sonic, as though it exists on multiple sensorial planes.
Mohamedi: I listen to either classical piano, walking meditations, or pop music like Taylor Swift. For the making of my 2023 solo exhibition at Pace Gallery, New York, I also listened to all six books of the science fiction series, Dune.

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