Ali Banisadr / MATRIX 185

Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, CT

October 22, 2020 – February 14, 2021

Press Release

Occupying the “between space” of fantasies and dreams, Ali Banisadr’s lively paintings explore intangible worlds balancing figuration and abstraction, order and disorder, energy and entropy. The artist’s process has been related to synesthesia—an internal response to sound that takes visual form as energy and rhythm in his painterly compositions. This creative approach began in Iran, when he was a boy, in response to bombings during the Iran-Iraq War. Fleeing first to Turkey, then California, and now living in New York, Banisadr’s life experiences have fueled his interest in different cultures, art history, and the current events that inform his art. Hallucinogenic or monochromatic color palettes heighten the drama of veiled masses in motion or commotion as if on a stage. He differentiates individual figures by pattern and style, variously applying paint with brushes, rags, and sticks. Like an all-seeing eye, Banisadr observes and considers societies past, present, and future and acts as a social critic on the human condition.

Known for his wide-ranging sources of inspiration, Banisadr asked to curate a small selection of Wadsworth collection works that illuminate his artistic interests. Within the MATRIX gallery, Banisadr has assembled prints, drawings, paintings, and a construction dating from the 16th to the 20th century from a variety of cultures. These include a panel painting after Hieronymus Bosch, Caprichos prints by Francisco Goya, woodblock landscape prints by Utagawa Hiroshige, and an assemblage by Joseph Cornell. Whether abstract or representational, Banisadr finds a kinship in their subject matter: strangely vivid worlds often animated with disturbing creatures.

Taking a broader view of the collection, Banisadr has also created a video collage of works on view throughout the museum that inspire him. Interested in showing his artist’s eye, the collage presents specific details in works of art where his focus is drawn. Banisadr’s video collage will be accessible both in the gallery and remotely. 


October 23 | A virtual gallery talk with Ali Banisadr

November 20 | Ali Banisadr & Robert Hobbs in Conversation

January 14 | An online gallery talk with Patricia Hickson


A video collage created by Banisadr of works in the Wadsworth collection that inspire him.

A playlist curated by Banisadr expresses the integral role sound plays in his art making. The artist listened to this soundtrack while he painted the new works for his MATRIX show.

Dive Deeper

Virtual Tour | Ali Banisadr / MATRIX 185 [Matrix 185 virtual tour]