‘Artists for New York’ is a major initiative to raise funds in support of a group of pioneering non-profit visual arts organizations across New York City that have been profoundly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The project brings together dozens of works committed by foremost artists across generations, from both within and outside of the gallery’s program, that will be sold to benefit these institutions that have played a significant role in shaping the city’s rich cultural history and will play a critical role in its future recovery.
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 is rooted in 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 Iraqi bombings. Fleeing 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 on the Wadsworth’s social media channels and on thewadsworth.org.
Paintings and works on paper by Ali Banisadr, who was born in Tehran in 1976, are characterised by dreamlike, hallucinatory and often seemingly chaotic landscapes. Inspired by childhood memories, imaginary scenes, the history of painting and sound, these themes underscore his paintings which have been the subject of numerous solo and group international exhibitions and which are housed in some of the world's most important museum collections.
ALI BANISADR AND PATRICIA HICKSON, THE EMILY HALL TREMAINE CURATOR OF CONTEMPORARY ART AT THE WADSWORTH ATHENEUM MUSEUM OF ART, DISCUSS HIS NEW PAINTING 'RED', ALONGSIDE SELECT WORKS BY MAX ERNST, AND BANISADR’S UPCOMING MATRIX EXHIBITION THIS FALL.
Ali Banisadr’s latest painting, Red, embodies the existential force of the natural world and the artistic urge to reconcile chaos through the act of creation. Banisadr began the large-scale painting in late 2019 before stepping away from the work in January 2020. Despite its appearance of completion, Banisadr “had a sense that I needed to do more to it.” After the global pandemic struck and countries across the world went into lockdown, he says, “the work made sense to me in a new way.” Banisadr then revisited the painting with renewed dedication, finishing at the end of March 2020.
Video of live conversation with special guest Ali Banisadr and host David Anfam to discuss creative life in the context of our new social reality. This gathering will conclude with a poetry reading by a member of our staff.
With his first German solo show at Blain|Southern Berlin open until 17 November, the New York-based artist discusses using drawings to make sense of his intense childhood in Iran and sound being a guiding force