Lombard-Freid Projects is pleased to present Pictograms, Tala Madani’s third solo exhibition at the gallery, which premieres new paintings and animations by the Iranian born artist.
Interested in the complexities and histories related to how we read a painting, she obscures perceptions and veils meaning by transforming the symbols of written language into the subject of her darkly comic visual games.
The diversity of her painterly language takes on a new facet with this series in which she introduces a graffiti-like spray-paint technique. In some works, she makes a grid of sprayed ‘spotlights’ in order to highlight certain scenes of a narrative, while in others the spray creates a halo effect around the characters as a riff on the tradition of illuminated manuscripts.
Madani hints at important connections between power structures and language with Leviathan, one of the large canvases in the show, which depicts a giant whose body is constituted entirely of fluorescent nude male contortionists in the shapes of anatomically suggestive letters. Madani’s version of this biblical monster recalls the frontispiece of Thomas Hobbes’ seminal doctrine of the same title (1651), which portrays a crowned Leviathan (a personification of the Commonwealth) whose torso is made up of hundreds of smaller figures.
Another large-scale painting, Camo, with its composition of jumbled and interlocking ‘letter-people’, makes reference to Warhol’s iconic camouflage works, while with similar irony defeats the concept with its electric palette. With characteristic humor, the act of concealment is achieved by clothing the figures.
In Eye Exam, she renders the familiar vision chart entirely null with each letter already blurred, while in another smaller canvas, the efficacy and functionality of language is questioned as the letter ‘A’ pushes an empty wheelbarrow.
Madani’s latest stop-motion video animation, The Dancer, created by painting and repainting a single canvas, features a lone figure improvising dance moves ranging from ballet to hip-hop. With each movement, the dancer twists and bends into extreme positions, generating shapes that allude to the paintings in the show.
Tala Madani (b. 1981, Tehran) lives and works between New York and Amsterdam. Recent exhibitions include: The Symbolic Efficiency of the Frame, 4th Tirana International Contemporary Art Biennial, Albania; The Generational: Younger Than Jesus, The New Museum, NY; Unveiled: New Art from the Middle East, The Saatchi Gallery, London, UK. Upcoming exhibitions include: The Future of Tradition, Haus der Kunst, Munich, Germany; 2010 Liverpool Biennial, Liverpool, UK.
Image: Reverse Alphabet, 2009, spray paint and oil on canvas 75 x 90 inches 190.5 x 228.6 cm
Opening Thursday, February 25, 6 - 8pm
531 West 26th Street, New York NY 10001
Tuesday through Friday 10–6; Saturday 11–6