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Havana Biennial 2019: Constructing the Possible Ocula Report Havana Biennial 2019: Constructing the Possible 17 Apr 2019 : Federica Bueti for Ocula

I first visited Havana in November 2016, a few days after Fidel Castro died, and just under a year before Hurricane Irma hit Cuba in September 2017. Since then, much has changed, including the hand-painted signs that punctuate the journey from the airport to the city centre, which today do not celebrate the revolution so much as the 'Unidad y...

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Andrew Stahl and Guo Xiaohui Ocula Conversation Andrew Stahl and Guo Xiaohui

The exhibition Beyond Boundaries at Somerset House in London (12 March–2 April 2019) marked the historic contributions of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing (CAFA) and the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London, on the occasion of their 100th and 150th anniversaries, respectively. Spread across several rooms of Somerset House's...

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The National 2019: New Australian Art Ocula Report The National 2019: New Australian Art 13 Apr 2019 : Elyse Goldfinch for Ocula

The National 2019: New Australian Art features work by 70 contemporary Australia-based artists split across three venues: the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW), Carriageworks, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) (29 March–21 July 2019), as curated by Isobel Parker Philip, curator of photographs at AGNSW; Daniel Mudie Cunningham,...

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Tala Madani

b. 1981, Iran

Through her provocative, often pastel-coloured cartoonish paintings and her stop-motion animations depicting eerie spaces and groups of men engaged in fictitious erotic rituals, Tala Madani subverts gender roles, reimagines sexual identity and visualises psychological unease. Her artwork is playful, perverse and shows no restraint in depicting baseless desires and primitive forms of the human body.

Born in Tehran in 1981, Madani moved to western Oregon at the age of 15, going on to graduate with a BFA from Oregon State University in 2004, and with an MFA from Yale University School in 2006. In 2007, she presented her debut exhibition at Lombard-Freid Projects Gallery, New York, which featured her now-popular 'cake paintings'—a series in which half-naked men prance in and around pink, gooey birthday cakes.

In a profile published in The New Yorker, Mandani's exploration of the secretive behaviour of men and their daily habits is traced back to trips she took with her Grandfather to Tehran's Mellat Park, where she would watch her grandfather and other men chat with one another. Yet, the men in Mandani's paintings and videos do not appear in public spaces, but instead are caught in seemingly private acts, which are often sexually explicit. In Enema up the ladder (2012), for example, one man is depicted giving another an enema and in Morris Men with Piss Stain (2013), a group of smiling figures bask in their own bodily fluids. There is also a continuous sense of machismo and childlike curiosity in Madani's work—an exploration of desire that often becomes violent. For instance, in the stop-motion video Sex Ed by God (2017), a floating pair of pink lips gives lessons on how best to perform cunnilingus to an audience of a clapping boy and a mumbling man, alongside a projected image of a girl. After a minute and a half, the girl eventually reaches out of the frame, grabs the two figures and stuffs them neatly into her vagina.

Using garish and cartoonish elements in her work, often depicting exaggerated genitals and damaged or disembodied body parts, her work has resulted in comparisons to artists such as Mike Kelley, Philip Guston and Sue Williams. For example, in O (2012), Madani depicts a man sitting on a chair, smiling as he strokes his oversized ejaculating penis which, arched over his head, appears threatening. Similarly, in The Gift (2015), she paints a sheepish boy-like figure in a backlit doorway, his penis splayed out on the floor in front of him and taking up almost a third of the composition while an impossibly sized penis almost fills the canvas in Son Down (2015), dwarfing the three figures of the composition.

Madani has shown at the Liverpool Biennial (2010), Venice Biennale (2011), Göteborg International Biennial for Contemporary Art (2013), Marrakech Biennale (2014), Taipei Biennial (2014), and the Whitney Biennial in New York (2017), and has work held in numerous public and private collections.

Select exhibitions include ASS•AS•SIN: hashish anyone?, Lombard-Freid Projects, New York (2008); Greater New York, MoMA PS1, New York (2010); The Jinn, Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam (2011); Rip Image, Moderna Museet, Malmö and Stockholm (2013); Abstract Pussy, Pilar Corrias Gallery, London (2014); Tala Madani, Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo, Seville (2014); Get Rid of Yourself: America is Hard to See, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2015); Smiley has no nose, David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles (2015); First Light, Contemporary Art Museum St Louis (2016); Shitty Disco, Pilar Corrias Gallery, London (2016); Tala Madani, La Panacée, Montpellier (2017).

In 2012 Madani was awarded the Volkskrant Art Award, and in 2013 she received the Catherine Doctorow Prize for Contemporary Painting. In 2007 she was the artist in residence at the Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten, Amsterdam, and she held the Abbey Painting Fellowship of the British School at Rome in 2010.

Madani lives and works in Los Angeles.

Genista Jurgens | Ocula | 2018
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Featured Artworks

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Untitled by Tala Madani contemporary artwork Tala MadaniUntitled, 2018 Oil on linen
50.8 x 43.2 cm
303 Gallery
Talisman V by Tala Madani contemporary artwork Tala MadaniTalisman V, 2016 Oil on linen
51 x 43 cm
Pilar Corrias
Talisman II by Tala Madani contemporary artwork Tala MadaniTalisman II, 2016 Oil on linen
51 x 43 cm
Pilar Corrias
Oven IV by Tala Madani contemporary artwork Tala MadaniOven IV, 2018 Oil on linen
96.5 x 76.2 x 3.2 cm
Pilar Corrias
Oven III by Tala Madani contemporary artwork Tala MadaniOven III, 2018 Oil on linen
96.5 x 76.2 x 3.2 cm
Pilar Corrias
Oven I by Tala Madani contemporary artwork Tala MadaniOven I, 2018 Oil on linen
96.5 x 76.2 x 3.2 cm
Pilar Corrias
Elevation Painting by Tala Madani contemporary artwork Tala MadaniElevation Painting, 2018 Oil on linen
61 x 45.7 cm
303 Gallery
The Audience by Tala Madani contemporary artwork Tala MadaniThe Audience, 2018 Single-channel animation (colour, sound)
303 Gallery

Recent Exhibitions

Contemporary art exhibition, Tala Madani, Corner Projections at 303 Gallery, New York
Closed
1 November–15 December 2018 Tala Madani Corner Projections 303 Gallery, New York
Contemporary art exhibition, Tala Madani & Nathaniel Mellors, Group Exhibition at PKM Gallery, Seoul
Closed
25 March–9 May 2014 Tala Madani & Nathaniel Mellors Group Exhibition PKM Gallery, Seoul

Represented By

In Related Press

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Lillian Lovelace and Tala Madani Honored at MOCA (pictures) Related Press Lillian Lovelace and Tala Madani Honored at MOCA (pictures) Huffington Post : 9 November 2017

On November 1, 2017, The Museum of Contemporary Art held a luncheon honoring Lillian Lovelace and Tala Madani. Lovelace and Madani were celebrated for their extraordinary talents and contributions to the arts.

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Frieze New York: Modern Complexities Related Press Frieze New York: Modern Complexities Aesthetica : 29 April 2017

This year sees Frieze New York host its sixth edition at Randall’s Island Park from 5 to 7 May. A collection of ambitious presentations from leading international contemporary and 20th century art galleries will be joined by curated sections showcasing emerging artists, site-specific artist commissions and a talks series. Supported by lead partner...

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The Charming, Disgusting Paintings of Tala Madani Related Press The Charming, Disgusting Paintings of Tala Madani The New Yorker : 28 April 2017

Recently, the Iranian-American artist Tala Madani was sitting in her studio in Los Angeles, tweaking a video in progress. It featured a young girl wearing a bow in her hair and a yellow-gold cardigan, her legs akimbo in a pose that conjured Courbet's "The Origin of the World."

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MoMA Protests Trump Entry Ban by Rehanging Work by Artists from Muslim Nations Related Press MoMA Protests Trump Entry Ban by Rehanging Work by Artists from Muslim Nations The New York Times : 3 February 2017

In one of the strongest protests yet by a major cultural institution against President Trump's executive order on immigration, the Museum of Modern Art has rehung part of its permanent collection with works by artists from some of the majority-Muslim nations whose citizens are blocked from entering the United States.

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