Tala Madani (b. 1981, Tehran, Iran) makes paintings and animations whose indelible images bring together wide-ranging modes of critique, prompting reflection on gender, political authority, and questions of who and what gets represented in art. Her work is populated by mostly naked, bald, middle-aged men engaged in acts that push their bodies to their limits. Bodily fluids and beams of light emerge from their orifices, generating metaphors for the tactile expressivity of paint. In Madani’s work, slapstick humor is inseparable from violence and creation is synonymous with destruction, reflecting a complex and gut-level vision of contemporary power imbalances of all kinds. Her approach to figuration combines the radical morphology of a modernist with a contemporary sense of sequencing, movement, and speed. Thus, her work finds some of its most powerful echoes in cartoons, cinema, and other popular durational forms.
Biscuits, Tala Madani’s first North American survey, is on view at The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles through February 19, 2023. Biscuits brings together fifteen years of the artist’s incisive work and highlights the often-absurd sociocultural dynamics enacted within Madani’s art and, more broadly, the potent and combustible relationship between art history and global history. Madani has been the subject of solo exhibitions at a number of museums worldwide, including Start Museum, Shanghai (2020); Mori Art Museum, Tokyo (2019); Secession, Vienna (2019); Portikus, Frankfurt (2019); La Panacée, Montpellier, France (2017); MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge, Massachusetts (2016); Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis (2016); Nottingham Contemporary, England (2014); and Moderna Museet, Malmö and Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden (2013). She recently participated in the 16th Istanbul Biennial: The Seventh Continent, Istanbul, Turkey (2019); Whitney Biennial 2017, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and Made in L.A. 2014, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, among many other international group exhibitions. Madani’s work is in the permanent collections of institutions that include Moderna Museet, Stockholm and Malmö, Sweden; Guggenheim Museum, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Tate Modern, London; Mori Art Museum, Tokyo; and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Madani lives and works in Los Angeles.