Tala Madani

The Los-Angeles-based painter takes laughter seriously.

Tala Madani

Tala Madani’s paintings and digital animations dismantle mainstream images of masculinity with their playfully subversive treatment of the male figure. Clad in underwear or sleepwear, her macho subjects are depicted in absurd situations that often involve bodily functions, suggesting that even these private moments are shared. “I think laughter is incredibly serious,” says the Tehran-born, Los Angeles–based artist, 32, who gained critical acclaim last year when she had a solo show at Stockholm’s Moderna Museet. “Jokes and laughter are a way of opening up your subconscious.” Her recent paintings feature original illustrations from Peter and Jane, a popular series of children’s books that depict gender roles along traditional lines. (Madani used them to learn how to read English as a child in Iran.) The children appear in the same frame with Madani’s men, irreverently combining a prescribed order with loose freedom. Next up for her is “Made in L.A. 2014,” the Hammer Museum’s biennial, which runs June 15 through September 7.

Madani’s Light Balance, 2013. Courtesy of the artist and Pilar Corrias, London.

All Over the Map

“There’s a little control—but a lot of chance.” Read more about Israel Lund here. Photograph by Amanda Hakan.

“Jokes and laughter are a way of opening up your subconscious.” Read more about Tala Madani here. Portrait by Adam Laycock.

“I have really intense attachments to every single thing in the work.” Read more about Samara Golden here. Courtesy of the artist.

“I think of my work as paintings, but I have no problem with people calling them sculptures.” Read more about Justin Adian here. Photograph by James McKee.

“The images are old, ancient even. But the way they’re all gathered from different places speaks to our world today.” Read more about Kour Pour here. Photograph by Stephanie “Elle” Quintana.

“People think Brazilians are happy all the time, but there’s a lot of sadness here.” Read more about Adriano Costa here. Courtesy of Mendes Wood DM, Sao Paulo

“I will never be the kind of artist who does one thing.” Read more about Jean-Baptiste Bernadet here. Photograph by Amanda Hakan.