Tala Madani is one of the most original painters to have emerged in recent years. Her work reflects on masculinity, group dynamics, sexuality and power play – topics that are explored with humour, as well as impossible cartoon violence.
Madani imagines the bizarre and purposeless rituals of a male-only domain. An absurd and nightmarish sense of exposure pervades her paintings of groups of men in underwear or sleepwear, blissfully unaware – and evidently enjoying – their own predicaments, and each others’ company. Madani has said that she “let’s the subconscious speak.”
Bodily functions appear in her paintings and digital animations, creating intensely private moments that are strangely shared. Moving outside the body, she describes some of her works as speaking of a sexual, religious or spiritual ecstasy. These are inextricably and disturbingly tangled, critiquing male power cliques.
She has said that she uses humour to “bring everyone’s guards down”. In her paintings competitive violence is reduced to an absurd impotence. So called feminine colours or patterns are applied to the macho activities.
A new series of works feature children from a traditional learn to read series, books that reflect the conservative gender roles of the 50s. As a teenager newly arrived in the United States, Madani herself used them to learn English. The children appear alongside Madani’s little men who can be good or evil. The original illustrations of the children’s ordered existence are subverted by their anarchic actions.
Madani’s work often seems to tell a story. She draws inspiration from the graphic novels of Alan Moore and Robert Crumb. Her work also contains numerous arthistorical references that range from Abstract Expressionism to Minimalism, encompassing in particular Jackson Pollock’s drip paintings and Morris Louis’s poured paint technique.
Born in 1981 in Tehran, Tala Madani lives and works in Los Angeles.
A limited edition by Tala Madani has been produced exclusively for this exhibition. Find out more >>
The exhibition is curated by Abi Spinks and is a collaboration with the Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo in Seville.
Tala Madani travels to CAAC, Seville: 15 April to 24 August 2014.