Tala Madani

The Lurid Stain of Buffoonery

Tala Madani’s paintings use humour to trawl patriarchy’s grubby depths.

By Kim Brockett APR 2014

Five men balance in a pyramid formation, each wearing a uniform patterned with thin lines of orange, brown and blue. With their backs facing the viewer, it soon becomes apparent that a bright yellow stain punctuates the seat of each man’s pants – little suns of urine amidst the dull rainbow of stripes.

It’s a fine introduction to Tala Madani’s work, characteristic of her irreverent, satirical style. “I have a disposition for satire and absurdity, and this presents itself in my approach to painting,” reflects the Iranian-American painter from Los Angeles, where she currently lives and works.

The work in question is Piss Rainbow (2008), whose composition is reminiscent of the degrading images that surfaced a decade ago, depicting prisoners at Abu Ghraib suffering abuse at the hands of the US military. It is an uncomfortable reminder – executed in Madani’s typically childlike, illustrative manner – of awful scenarios: a hideously optimistic re-examination of this moment in history, as if to say that after the rain (or in this case, piss) comes the rainbow.

But for Madani, the work is to remain open. “The work can often be very specific and direct, but in speaking about the work I won’t define the parameters of my meaning and intentions,” she says. “The reason of course is a simple desire for everyone to experience the work on their own terms.”

Almost all of Madani’s paintings exclusively portray men. Women are not part of her boys club, creating a frat house of buffoonery that finds her subjects in the midst of ... Subscribe to read this article in full

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