The writer Ottessa Moshfegh and the artist Ali Banisadr on artistic process, improvisation, and the power of repulsion.
It is difficult to describe the paintings of Ali Banisadr, born in Tehran in 1976 and whose studio is in Brooklyn. They are not abstract, though they appear to be, viewed from a distance: swirls, interlacing, coloured or black and white shapes sliding over each other. After a few moments, they reveal themselves to be inhabited by animal and human creatures, which are at once birds, lions and insects. They are reminiscent of those that populate religions in Sumer, in ancient Egypt, among the Hopi and Zuni Indians and others. The wind blows like a storm in this world of divinities, illuminated in the largest of canvases by a sun too big not to worry. It is then that we realise how much, through this painting full of symbols, Ali Banisadr shows the state of the world, its climate of wars and disasters. In their time, Jerome Bosch and Max Ernst, whom Ali Banisadr does not hide from admiring, did nothing else: they invented a metaphorical language to describe their present. The blue pastel drawings hung as a preamble to the paintings are very revealing: one can recognize in them several allusions to current events, in an almost raw state.
An in-depth podcast conversation on the artist's big influences, from Sufi poetry to Hieronymus Bosch. Hosted by Ben Luke.