The Raucous Assault of Tala Madani’s Art

Calvin Tomkins at The New Yorker:

For the first eight years of her life as an artist, Tala Madani, who was born in Tehran, painted only men, and not to their credit. “Caked,” in 2005, shows a brawny, nearly featureless oaf in a black undershirt smashing a cake in another oaf’s face. Next came a series of small paintings of men with plants growing out of their crotch—one of them tends to his foliage with a watering can. In 2011, she painted several men whose testicles hung from their chin, and a man in spirited conversation with his vital organs, which have been removed and placed in a comfortable chair. A series of 2015 paintings present men whose colossal, fire-hose penises take on lives of their own. None of these images suggest animosity toward the male species. The harmless dopes in Madani’s early work gave way to middle-aged, potbellied, bearded losers, whose weird plights make us laugh. Madani is that rarity in art, a wildly imaginative innovator with a gift for caricature and visual satire, and her first great subject was the absurdity of machismo. “I do think machismo is healthy and alive everywhere, and I was having fun upending it,” she told me last summer, when we began a number of conversations. “You know, you want it to grow bigger, so why not water it?”

more here.