Flow in and out of reason through Ali Banisadr’s captivating paintings

The intense, motion-filled work of Ali Banisadr explore themes of perception, intuition, sensorial experiences, primal instinct, memory and sound. The artist uses the canvas as a method of understanding the world we live in. Standing on an international background and understanding of the world, his paintings tackle the deepest senses of the viewer, breaking through any dividing factors of culture, language, country or race. The at times figurative subjects in his paintings are blurred in expressive strokes and deep contrasting color, making them equally foreign and relatable to the viewer. This dichotomy, prevalent across Banisadr’s œuvre, lays at the heart of each painting. We had the chance to talk with the artist and learn more about his upbringing and style. Accompanying the images of works, are installation views of two exhibitions, one in Kasemin Gallery, NY, and in Palazzo Vecchio and Museo Bardini, in Florence, Italy. Banisadr’s work clearly works in a myriad of levels, seen expressly in the installations with accompanying classical sculptures.

The Messenger, 2021, Oil on LInen, 72×160 inches, Courtesy of the Artist

Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from, and how did art first enter your life?

I currently live in Brooklyn which is where I have been for the past 21 years. Art has always been a part of my life since I was a kid growing up in Iran, it was sort of second nature to try to understand the chaotic world around me in a visual way. 

He Who Saw the Deep, 2021, Oil on Linen, 16×20 inches, Courtesy of the Artist

Has your work always taken on the same style it currently embodies?

In some shape or form I have always wanted to be able to combine many different elements, thoughts, visual languages in one place and to create a World Landscape, where it can contain an entire universe.

Beautiful Lies, 2021, Oil on Linen, 66×88 inches, Courtesy of the Artist

From where do you draw inspiration?

Everywhere, from Art History, Personal History, Personal and collective memory, my environment, current events, science and nature books, Literature, Poems, films, conversations, etc. When I am working on a painting, I am looking for answers everywhere.

Installation View, Kasemin Gallery, NY, 2021, Courtesy of the Artist

Walk us through a day in the studio.

The key is to show up in the studio, then there is a lot of looking, thinking, researching, reading, painting, drawing, experimenting, but never in the same order, each day can be different.

Installation View, Kasemin Gallery, NY, 2021, Courtesy of the Artist

What is your process like? How do you begin a work?

It begins with research and feeding my imagination based on things I am interested in at the time, then they sort of manifest themselves in the work in an organic way. Each work begins very differently, but one thing that I am always sure of at the beginning is the mood I want to create in the painting which brings us to your next question. 

Installation View, Museo Bardini, Florence, Italy, 2021, Courtesy of the Artist

Tell us about your relationship to color.

The mood I spoke about, has to do with colors that I make myself, as they can have a particular personal mood for me. I am very sensitive to the sounds that come from color, so the sound guided me to know which color to put down and how it vibrates next to another color. But the sounds can also come from Shapes, lines, textures and also the figures that show up a bit later in the progress of the paintings.

SOS, 2020, Oil on Linen, 66×88 inches, Courtesy of the Artist

If you could have three people over for dinner, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

Bosch, Dante, Goya… I think we would have a lot to talk about.

Installation View, Museo Bardini, Florence, Italy, 2021, Courtesy of the Artist

Does your work reference any Art Historical movements or figures?

I am interested in all Art History and I can take pieces and fragments when in need.

The Caravan, 2020, Oil on LInen, 66×88 inches, Courtesy of the Artist

What’s next for you?

I currently have a solo show titles “These Specks of Dust” at Kasmin gallery in NY which will be up until June 26. Also, I have Solo shows at two museums in Florence, Italy titled “Beautiful Lies” at Palazzo Vecchio and Museo Bardini which is up until August 29, 2021. Also, I have a new Rizzoli monograph which just came out this month. 

Installation View, Museo Bardini, Florence, Italy, 2021, Courtesy of the Artist

At the end of each interview, we like to ask the artist to recommend a friend whose work you love and would like for us to interview next. Who would you suggest?

Amy Cutler