Pilar Corrias Gallery: Tala Madani 'Abstract Pussy' (until 26th April 2014)
The gallery space houses a small collection of Madani's pieces, charting the artist's response to the theme. Firstly as the viewer enters the gallery, we are presented with 'Decorated', an oil painting depicting an old, wilting brown tree. Initially this seems irrelevant to the rest of the exhibition, however upon reflection and contemplation it appears that Madani is showing the need for artificiality in women in order to impress men. However naive or controversial this may seem, the recurring theme of the objectified woman is something that the artist clearly feels strongly about, thus creating an image that demands the viewer's deep attention and reflection. As a viewer, this seems an intelligent curatorial decision by the gallery.
As something of a motif to the exhibition, we are introduced almost immediately to the artist's middle aged male characters, who appear in a large proportion of the 'Abstract Pussy' collection. There is consistently a collective of these characters in the paintings; the idea seems to be that they are small in isolation, but they can be potent in numbers with their meticulous, persistent and menacing antics. '3D Glasses' presents these men for the first time, but not in full human form. Instead they are extending white blobs, wearing glasses as the title implies. The artist has included black strokes on the painting to represent facial hair; consequently the viewer is in no doubt of Madani's eventual damning portrayal and evident cynicism of the male attitude towards women's sexuality. In my perception, it could be inferred that the image is expressing the schism between the expectation of women that men hold, primarily due to films and pornography, and the consequent bewilderment when these men realise that women are not as inert as they would expect.
Many of the ideas planted in '3D glasses' are reflected throughout the exhibition's pieces, such as 'Searchlight', an image neighbouring the previous image bar one. A solemn painting, here the artist shifts focus to the potential vulnerability of men. In addition to the pressure that is put on female sexuality, there is the similar force determining what is 'natural' or 'normal' concerning the male sex drive, which can leave some men feeling isolated and distressed. Of course, as with all archetypes and clichés, it is a completely false and misguided sentiment, and 'Searchlight' is a sensitive work that does provide a slight break from the rest of the exhibition, in that the viewer is presented with an intensely dark image, thus drawing particular attention to the light that is illuminating the subject's groin area. This could represent 'penis envy' or perhaps the aforementioned lack of sexual desire which can plague some men and women on an equal level.