Light and Suicide

Tala Madani

In Residence: Jan 22 – Mar 25, 2013

Exhibition: Mar 21 – May 19, 2013

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 do.

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 presenting.

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 the experience.


Tala Madani

Tehran, Iran

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 out of the artist’s interest in exploring the ridiculous, profane, and humorous through her figures. Born in Tehran in 1981, Tala received her MFA in Painting from Yale University in 2006, and has exhibited internationally including shows at the New Museum in New York City, Haus der Kunst in Munich, Germany, and at the Saatchi Gallery in London, UK.

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Suzanne Cotter

Porto, Portugal

The International Artists-in-Residence were selected by Suzanne Cotter, Curator of the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi Project. Between 2002 and 2009, she held the positions of Senior Curator and later Deputy Director at the Modern Art Oxford. She has curated numerous exhibitions including Artpace alumni such as Candice Breitz, Mircea Cantor, Trisha Donnelly, and Silke Otto-Knapp. In 2011, she served as co-curator of the Sharjah Biennial. In 2006, she curated Out of Beirut, a pivotal survey of Beirut’s contemporary art and its accompanying symposium in Oxford, Public Time. The French Ministory of Culture and Communication honored Cotter with the prestigious Chevalier de l’Odre de Arts et des Lettres.

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