Imagine a world populated only by middle aged men, left to fumble through their daily activities with a heavy dose of masculinity and self-seriousness that so often plagues the male set. This is the scenario posited by Iranian-American artist Tala Madani, whose satirical paintings excel at seriously poking fun. We agree with Roberta Smith when she said, “Her works assert that the political is not only personal, painterly and painful but also deeply, affectingly comical and at times nearly abstract.”
Madani, who moved from Iran to the U.S. at 10 years old, paints dreamy, gestural political cartoons that deliver not a singular punchline, but an ambiguous feeling and nervous giggle. Bizarre scenarios ripe with machismo, violence, insecurity, camaraderie and homoeroticism occupy Madani’s canvases.
In “Morris Men,” bald men donning pastel tights do the splits in harmony, their disgruntled faces humorously contrasting their delicate limbs. The even stranger “Grass Bite” depicts two bald white men, their hairy bellies spilling out from beneath their wife-beaters. One man eats a large frond of grass from out of the other’s classic blue jeans, a look of solid determination across his face. Madani’s paintings, like the cross-pollination of a political message and an absurd dream, show how often abstraction can most sharply deliver a point.
Madani’s largest solo exhibition to date, including over 80 paintings, will show at theModerna Museet Malmö until October 25, 2013. If you are not in the area, check out a sample from the exhibition below.