The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Los Angeles will present Tala Madani, the first North American survey of the celebrated artist’s paintings, animations, and drawings. Organized by Senior Curator Mia Locks, the exhibition features more than 50 artworks that underscore Madani’s distinctive mix of expressionism and sharp-witted caricature. Together, they offer a powerful meditation on the deep-seated fears, conflicts and desires that drive our present day patriarchy.
Tala Madani gathers 15 years of paintings and animations as well as several newly conceived works. The exhibition includes Madani’s Cake Men paintings from 2006-07, in which powder pink cakes become instruments of ritualistic humiliation, and the Dazzle Men series from 2008, in which the wild patterns used to camouflage World War I Allied ships double as satirical clichés about abstract painting and the strictures of performative masculinity. In these and other early works, a cadre of mostly male, middle-aged figures engage in humiliating, sometimes violent scenarios where the stakes are unclear and the aims dubious at best.
In Madani’s recent work, she has become increasingly interested in the idea of projection—in both the literal and metaphorical senses. Many of her paintings from the past few years feature glowing lights, whether from the beam of a car headlight, the bulb of a digital projector, or the rear end of a naked man. In several of these works, the male figures are both the source of illumination and its receiver. Madani’s interest in light connects her work to the history of cinema; a number of her hand-painted, stop-motion video animations will be included in the exhibition along with a selection of her large-scale corner diptychs of overhead projectors and shadow puppets. The exhibition will also present a suite of new works that further the artist’s ongoing dissection of prevailing gender norms and power structures.