Tala Madani

Tala Madani

I Really Laugh When I Paint

American-Iranian artist Tala Madani has gained attention for her highly personal paintings depicting Middle Eastern men performing bizarre narrative rituals. In her art Madani reverses the traditional female object in painting, using laughter as energy.

"Laughter is quite interesting, because it's not necessarily "ha ha funny" laughter, sometimes it’s a burst of energy, this intensity of whatever is coming up." To artist Tala Madani, laughter is a higher personal energy, which she expresses through her art. In this interview Tala Maldani takes us on a tour of her painting technique and explains why she likes narratives and prefers to paint without space and perspective. Drawings and paintings are wordless communication, and as such should not be explained, but experienced. Tala Madani paints the messy and the delicious, the funny, the contours and the stuff of people, she says in this interview. Madani also explains that painting is more mediated than drawing, but that she tries to "make painting more immediate and get the imagination out."

Tala Madani (b. 1981) is an Iranian-American artist based in Los Angeles, USA. She has an MFA in painting from Yale University School of Art in New Haven, USA, from 2006. One of Madani's recurrent motifs is vulnerable, comic male figures, which gives the effect of reversing the conventionally objectified female body in painting. Her portraits of Middle Eastern men play out fictive rituals of a deviant, distinctly female imagination. Her painting style is loose, incorporating gestural brushstrokes into bizarre narrative scenes in an almost cartoon quality.

Tala Madani was interviewed by Synne Rifbjerg at Moderna Museet Malmö in 2013.

Camera: Jakob Solbakken
Edited by: Kamilla Bruus
Produced by: Marc-Christoph Wagner
Music by: The XX
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2013

Supported by Nordea-fonden

  • David Shrigley

    Everything that is Bad About Art

    "One tends to think of oneself as being somewhat more functional and dynamic than one actually is.” Join the incomparable David Shrigley for a thorough and humorous talk about making art that some people think is absolute rubbish.

  • Joshua Oppenheimer

    Making the Invisible Visible

    "You have to find the traces of fear and silence that are visible, whether it's in the furrow of someone's brow or in the water as it flows down an aging torso." Joshua Oppenheimer talks about the making of his Oscar-nominated documentaries.

  • Erica Jong

    Advice to the Young

    “Remember that if you write about sexuality they’re going to think it’s an invitation to fuck you or rape you. But go on writing about it anyway.” Iconic feminist writer Erica Jong shares a lifetime of hard earned lessons.

  • 8 Writers

    on Facing the Blank Page

    “It’s like a slightly overweight, bald boss saying: ‘Oy, get to work! You’re supposed to be a writer, aren’t you? You can’t just sit around on your fat ass waiting to be inspired’.” Hear how David Mitchell and seven other authors face the blank page.

  • Jonathan Franzen

    Advice to the Young

    How do you succeed as a writer? Get useful, and humorous, advice from someone who indeed has indeed made it through the loophole – chart-topping American novelist Jonathan Franzen.

  • Clemens Setz

    Great Art for Banal Reasons

    “When someone writes a nice piece of music and it affects me, I always think to myself: how can this happen? He doesn’t know me and has been dead for three centuries.” Meet Clemens Setz, one of Austria’s important young writers.

  • Erik A. Frandsen

    Drawing Out Memories

    Distinguished Danish artist Erik A. Frandsen here shares how the trance-like experience of a 35 days and 1,050-kilometre long walk was transferred into a stunning exhibition of multi-coloured mosaic columns and beautiful watercolour sketches.

  • David Shrigley

    Advice to the Young

    “You’re on the right track if you’re excited about what you’re doing.” David Shrigley, known for his humorous spin on common situations, here advises his colleagues to be open to learning from mistakes and stresses that being an artist “isn’t for everybody.”

  • Manal Al Dowayan

    Protecting Words

    “The written word is about engaging the viewer.” Let us introduce you to the cool Saudi Arabian artist Manal Al Dowayan, who here shares why she has chosen to integrate words into her art – and why they are so powerful.

  • Cécile B. Evans

    The Virtual is Real

    “I just don’t believe in the word ‘virtual’,” says artist Cécile B. Evans and argues that in today’s society, where drones are used for warfare and romantic relationships begin online we can no longer distinguish between the so-called real and the virtual.

  • Ragnar Kjartansson & Mother

    On ’Me and My Mother’

    Every five years, artist Ragnar Kjartansson asks his mother to spit on him for several minutes in front of a camera. The Icelandic mother and son here discuss the fascinating performance, which Kjartansson argues has become “like a part of our family life.”

  • William Kentridge

    Reduced to Being an Artist

    ”One can always write ones biography in the terms of the failures which have saved you.” Meet South African artist William Kentridge in this extensive and humorous reflection upon life and his relationship with art.