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Baby on Board, solo exhibition at Monte Visat Projects in Los Angeles, 2020

In the series, Baby on Board, Theselius uses humor and superstition as a tool to process her own fears of being a parent. In a series of rectangular gouache paintings, Theselius has given her son supernatural powers. Sometimes he is traveling through various landscapes surrounded by different creatures, sometimes riding on two cats or floating on a flying carpet. Some of the scenes derive from actual landscapes, like a trip Theselius made with her toddler son to the small Moroccan city of Tiznit as part of an exchange between Moroccan and Swedish artists. Other scenes are inspired by Theselius’s family’s brief relocation to Jersey City, NJ, or a friend’s home in the countryside of Upstate New York. Also depicted are the woods in Theselius’s native Sweden as well as landscapes from her previous long-term home of Los Angeles, which is also where her son was born.

In several paintings, the text, “Baby on Board,” is a center motif, referring to the stickers on the back of cars which signal to other drivers that they should be extra cautious around this vehicle on the road. Only here, the text is at times barely legible, taking on a psychedelic style and creating a mantra that loses its meaning as it is repeated in the paintings, similar to seeing the text constantly in the American automotive landscape. In a way, the illegibility of the “Baby on Board” text mocks the real versions of these stickers which to Theselius seem like an act of superstition, as if a magical sticker is going to protect the vehicle from harm’s way. At the same time, however, Theselius believes in these types of superstitious acts. The comparison between superstition and the text “Baby on Board” is made more clear as there is always a version of the “nazar” lurking in the background of the paintings. This was a common motif and amulet Theselius repeatedly saw on her trip to Tiznit, which is meant to protect from the evil eye. While driving around the city she was faced with a dilemma which inspired this body of work. Theselius had brought a car seat for her son but it was rendered useless as most of the vehicles they traveled in did not have any seat belts to secure the car seat in. This repeated occurrence is typical of the loss of control one feel as a parent. You try and do the correct thing but the reality is you cannot always protect your child. This is a fact no parent wants to accept and even though Theselius is aware that it might be a flawed course of action she imagines that she can prevent her fears of her son being harmed in real life if she processes them through her art.