about the exhibition
New Works 13.1
March 21–May 19, 2013ABOUT THE ARTIST
Tala Madani’s paintings and animation approach issues of gender and taboo through humor,
absurdity, and the grotesque. In her gestural style, male figures often appear in ridiculous physical
scenarios—disemboweling themselves, vomiting on one another—which result from her interest in
exploring the profane and humorous through figures. Born in Tehran in 1981, Madani received her
MFA in Painting from Yale University in 2006, and has exhibited internationally, including shows at
the New Museum in New York, Haus der Kunst in Munich, and the Danish Pavilion during the
2011 Venice Biennale.
ABOUT THE PROCESS
Tell us about the narrative you have created in these paintings.
In the large works, a man is standing on an edge, about to jump. The fall could represent a beginning
or perhaps an end. He will fall through diagonal lines that represent transition, but in the end,
it becomes death by Modernism—and even death of Modernism. The clouds act as an abstract
obstruction, an interference at some points in the background. In some areas they are in the
foreground, erasing part of the painting. The formal elements form the narrative, because that is
the language of the painting. In the small works, you have a man holding a flashlight in his mouth,
lighting him up, projecting out of his body. These paintings are about revealing, though they are
blurring or creating opacity instead of visibility—doing the opposite of what light is supposed to
Are the paintings meant to tell one story in the exhibition?
The paintings are part of the same series, but are meant to be independent of each other. They
are a sequence of different variations of the same thing—the Groundhog Day effect—repeating
that same thing until it’s been done definitively or it has been processed to all of its possibilities.
To me, it’s not about the process of making them so much as it is about the ideas they are
How does the animation connect with the paintings?
The animation fits in between both the ideas of the suicide paintings and light paintings. The
character cuts holes in his shirt. In each hole, an eye appears, like the mythological figure Argus.
The character likes the eyes—until the lights go on. Then he becomes afraid and stabs the eyes,
bleeding through them. In the end, he is reduced to a stick figure, becoming one of the fundamental
elements of painting.
What is your process for creating your works?
The works start from sketches. So drawing is very important. The animation came from two drawings,
based on an idea I had a couple years ago. It takes a while to distill ideas and, because of
that, the real San Antonio work is not in this space yet. It may take a year or six months to process