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Tala Madani

The exhibition took place between 25 January and 23 March 2014. The works exhibited reflected Madani’s almost exclusive focus on the depiction of men, or all male groups. In her paintings competitive violence is reduced to an absurd impotence. Male subjects are made to engage in blissfully self-absorbed rituals, their adult masculinity undermined by the childish delight that they take in their bodies. Several works also referenced the devices of mid-20th century male-dominated Modern art movements - Abstract Expressionism, Colour Field and Action painting, Conceptual art – which Madani disrupts with references to slapstick, chorus lines and underground graphic novels.

The exhibition also included a new series of works, featuring the children from traditional ‘Peter and Jane’ style books whose actions reflected the conservative gender roles of the 50s. Engaging a different process to earlier works, the storybook illustrations, commissioned by anonymous professional artists in China, are overlaid by depictions of Madani’s ‘little men’, spirit like creatures who can be good or evil, their bodies oozing squeezed-out painted smears. As well as her works on canvas, which vary from an intimate to a large scale, the exhibition featured several of her stop-animation works, produced by painting a single sheet of glass.  

The exhibition was curated by Abi Spinks, and subsequently toured to the Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo in Seville.

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