The first North American survey of Tala Madani’s work brings together nearly twenty years of the artist’s incisive paintings and animations.
The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), is pleased to present Tala Madani: Biscuits, the first North American survey of Iranian-born, Los Angeles-based artist Tala Madani’s paintings and animations.
The exhibition, organised by MOCA Associate Curator Rebecca Lowery and MOCA Ahmanson Curatorial Fellowship Guest Curator, Ali Subotnick, brings together nearly twenty years of the artist’s incisive work, tracing an arc of iterative series through which Madani has highlighted absurd, and often disturbing, social dynamics and the potent and combustible relationship between art history and contemporary geopolitics.
Taken as a whole, Madani’s paintings and animations, with their rich narratives and heavy dose of irony, offer a powerful meditation on the potential for art to reflect deeply-seated cultural fears, conflicts, and desires, eliciting curiosity, fantasy, hilarity, and repulsion—often all in one fell swoop.
Madani’s work is a form of cultural criticism that is intentionally literal, legible, and accessible to multiple audiences. Her paintings and animations include cadres of middle-aged male figures engaging in darkly comic, sometimes violent acts; illustrations of white middle-class children’s exploits punctuated by bodily fluids and miniature men; and literal reflections on motherhood interpreted as a humanoid, brown sludge 'Shit Mom' figure, surrounded by cherubic children.
The exhibition includes series from 2020-22 that were made during the ongoing pandemic; these recent works include a group of paintings and animations that use the image of a fan to consider the circulation of air and breath, as well as paintings that continue Madani’s ongoing commentary on early childhood education and its relationship to authority.
These paintings are monumental in scale and will be assembled salon-style to form the crescendo of the exhibition. The paintings continue Madani’s exploration of motherhood and all of its facets with an underlying philosophical, even existential tone. They move away from the frustration and humor of the Shit Mom series to something wistful, even elegiac or platonically romantic—the sense of mum's ubiquity, mum always being with you in some way, and mum being a different entity for everyone, the way one might see a dragon in a cloud while another may see the same cloud as a mountain range.
On Saturday 10 September, 4.30pm, Madani will be in conversation with Ali Subotnick, Guest Curator, and Rebecca Lowery, Associate Curator, to discuss the exhibition and the artist's practice more widely. More information here.
The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA
The Museum of Contemporary Art 250 South Grand Avenue Los Angeles, CA 90012