Table Trouble
indistinctly signed, titled and dated '08 "table trouble"' (on the reverse)
oil on panel
958 x 1134in. (24.6 x 30cm.)
Painted in 2008
Lombard-Freid Projects, New York.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2009.
D. Al-Hadid, 'Tala Madani', in Bomb Magazine, 1 October 2009 (illustrated in colour, accessed online).
Haarlem, De Hallen Haarlem, He disappeared into complete silence: rereading a single artwork by Louise Bourgeois, 2011, pp. 23, 25, 52 (illustrated, pp. 24 and 53).
Malmö, Moderna Museet, Tala Madani: Rip Image, 2013, pp. 139 and 180 (illustrated in colour, p. 139). This exhibition later travelled to Stockholm, Moderna Museet.
Los Angeles, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Tala Madani: Biscuits, 2022-2023, p. 216 (illustrated in colour, p. 140).
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Lot Essay

Painted in 2008, Table Trouble is a representative work of Tala Madani’s humorous, yet revolutionary oeuvre. Rich in narrative and heavy in irony, the artist deconstructs preconceived roles and stereotypes to explore power structures and the construction of male identity. Rendered in oil on an intimately sized panel, a male figure, the recurring theme in Madani’s body of works, emerges absurdly through a wooden table which seems to be floating against gravity. The contrast between the domestic setting and the playful, yet uncanny, atmosphere created by the undefined expression of the subject, placed on the table as a meal, reverses the power structure of stereotypical masculinity. Set against an unpopulated background, the pastel tones of pink and the cartoonish effect given by the candid quickness of the brushstrokes reinforce the humor which Madani describes: ‘Humor is a release. […] I need the humor to process the ideas. Humor is also hope, and I’m not a nihilist. It’s a position.’ (T. Madani, quoted in G. Burlington ‘Failure as Protest: Tala Madani Interviewed by Gwen Burlington’, in Bomb Magazine, 21 August 2021).

Table Trouble has been featured in a number of important solo shows, including Tala Madani: Biscuits held in 2022-2023 at The Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, the first survey of Madani in the USA, which brought together more than fifteen years of the artist’s incisive oeuvre. This exceptional work has also been exhibited in the artist’s largest retrospective exhibition to date, Tala Madani: Rip Image in 2013 at Moderna Museet in Malmö which later travelled to the Moderna Museet in Stockholm. In 2011, the group show He disappeared into complete silence: rereading a single artwork by Louise Bourgeois at De Hallen in Haarlem, showcased Madani’s work alongside leading artists across time and space, including Robert Barry, Zarina Bhimji, Alighiero e Boetti, Carol Bove, James Lee Byars, Antonia Carrara, Tacita Dean, Roni Horn, Zoe Leonard, Rory Pilgrim, Pamela Rosenkranz, Francesco Vezzoli, and Amanda Wasielewski.

Born in Tehran, Iran in 1981, and graduating from Yale University School of Art in 2006, Tala Madani has quickly established herself as one of the most acclaimed artists of her generation. Her works have been featured in a number of significant exhibitions at leading international museums, such as MoMA P.S.1, New York; Victoria & Albert Museum, London, and The Sharjah Art Museum, United Arab Emirates. Madani was the winner of numerous prestigious awards such as the Catherine Doctorow Prize for Contemporary Painting in 2013 and the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation award in 2014. Her work is included in the permanent collections of many leading institutions, including Whitney Museum of American Art, New York and the Tate Museum, London. She currently lives and works in Los Angeles.

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