09.02.2019 – 14.04.2019
Alte Brücke 2 / Maininsel
The exhibition Oven Light by the Tehran-born and Los Angeles-based artist Tala Madani (*1981) focuses on new serial paintings and animations that create the framework for their narratives through similarly structured motifs. Oven Light is Tala Madani’s first solo exhibition in Germany.
Tala Madani’s works show mundane light sources, such as stovepipes, projectors, and flashlights. They present light itself as a projected, brilliant, and radiant medium, and draw attention to what it reveals. Associations with classical painterly skills or the play of light as an early cinematic concept come to mind, magically creating the painted or real light projections on the canvas.
The light in Madani’s images also follows this idea of magic when it illuminates unreal scenes, such as men’s thoughts in their heads, or in pseudoreal paintings, when it seems to shine from one side to the other as a supposed corner projection. The figures in the works, most of whom are painted on a dark background, follow a similar—from today’s perspective—naive curiosity: shadow plays, bunny ears, and magic tricks are the motifs Tala Madani uses to tell of light and its qualities. Prismatic color fields ultimately break light down into its individual parts.
The paintings and animations communicate primal behaviors, negate the conformities of representation, and at the same time reveal sociopolitical rules. Power dynamics, patriarchal structures, and contemporary image politics are exposed by human drives, effects from splatter films, and sexualized physicality. The light in the works reveals supposed dark sides: childish expressions, violent fantasies, and animal instincts. Socially normal public behavior is exaggerated in the dark little films, so that the figures in the works can—or even must—succumb to their desires.
The dominance of these drives, which turn the male figures into their own scourges, often surfaces. They become pack animals, and the man, along with his functions, turns into a submissive body. The figures repeatedly fool themselves, whether through their own desires or through the mindless joy of seemingly simple things such as light and shadow. In this way, the oven becomes the light source for a mundane environment, and consequently the trap of a mistaken possible enlightenment.
Tala Madani’s works jump from dream to drive, from forbidden thoughts to unavoidable desires. Clichés unveil the dynamics of society, slapstick plainly shows the truth. In this way, the works have something liberating about them, exactly what the adult world envies in children. One quite frequently feels like a rubbernecker, who is waiting for an accident and will be rewarded.
This exhibition was generously supported by:
303 Gallery, New York
Pilar Corrias, London
For more information, please click here
Image courtesy of the artist and Portikus.