Hayden Gallery

Tala Madani: First Light

ShowingMay 20, 2016 - July 17, 2016

Hayden Gallery

Over the past ten years, Tehran-born and Los Angeles-based Tala Madani has developed a signature practice centered on playful yet provocative representations of men. Her paintings, drawings, and stop-motion animations—characterized by loose, expressive brushwork—combine a gestural figuration with mature and often disturbing subject matter. These bracingly deadpan works satirize conventional notions of masculinity, recasting the male figure in various scenarios that both mock virility and redistribute the dynamics of power. Bright pastel color fields form the ground for base group scenes in which balding, rotund, and mustachioed middle-aged men blindly follow each other in circles, undergo interrogation, and perform various humiliating acts. Unflinchingly scatological and abject, Madani’s works encourage a larger consideration of authority, desire, and shame.



Tala Madani (b. 1981, Tehran, Iran) lives and works in Los Angeles. Recent solo exhibitions include Nottingham Contemporary, Nottingham, UK, and Moderna Museet, Stockholm. Selected group exhibitions include The Great Acceleration, 2014 Taipei Biennial, Taiwan; Made in L.A. 2014, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; 5thMarrakech Biennale, Marrakech, Morocco; PS1, New York; and the 2009 New Museum Triennial, New Museum, New York.


Tala Madani: First Light is organized in collaboration with the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis and is curated by Henriette Huldisch, Curator, MIT List Visual Arts Center, and Kelly Shindler, Associate Curator, CAM St. Louis.

Exhibitions at the List Center are made possible with the support of Cynthia & John Reed and Terry & Rick Stone.

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General operating support is provided by Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Council for the Arts at MIT, the Office of the Associate Provost at MIT, the MIT School of Architecture + Planning, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and many generous individual donors. The Advisory Committee Members of the List Visual Arts Center are gratefully acknowledged.

  • Tala Madani, Projections, 2015. Oil on linen, 80 x 98 ¼ x 1 ⅜ in. Courtesy of the artist and Pilar Corrias Gallery, London. Photo: Josh White.

  • Tala Madani,  Adoption,  2015.  Oil on linen, 55 x 44 x 1 ¼ in. Collection of Sheldon Inwentash and Lynn Factor, Toronto. Photo: Josh White

  • Tala Madani: First Light
    Exhibtion Installation view: MIT List Visual Arts Center
    Photo: John Kennard

  • Tala Madani, The Dance, 2015. Oil on linen, 16 x 23 x 1 ⅛ in. Collection of Laurie Mitchell and Brent Woods

  • Tala Madani: First Light
    Exhibtion Installation view: MIT List Visual Arts Center
    Photo: John Kennard

  • Tala Madani, Love Doctor, 2015. Oil on linen, 16 x 14 ¼ x ¾ in.  Collection of Christina Papadopoulou. Photo: Josh White

  • Tala Madani: First Light
    Exhibtion Installation view: MIT List Visual Arts Center
    Photo: John Kennard

  • Tala Madani: First Light
    Exhibtion Installation view: MIT List Visual Arts Center
    Photo: John Kennard

Press Coverage

  1. Men Are Babies According to Artist Tala Madani | Harper's Bazaar Arabia | Laura van Straaten

  2. Paintings that Ridicule and Lampoon All-Powerful Men | Mira Dayal | Hyperallergic

  3. Tala Madani’s paintings provoke at MIT’s List Visual Arts Center | Sebastian Smee | The Boston Globe

  4. “Tala Madani: First Light” | Andrew Berardini | Artforum