Updated: Jun 2, 2020
Ali Banisadr (b. 1976) lived through the Iran-Iraq War. He paints the sounds and sights of war. The visual and narrative content of his works is shaped by his exposure to war, pop culture, cinema, graphic novels, and European painting.
Interrogation is one of his apocalyptic paintings, in which meticulously rendered figures and monumental expanses reminiscent of Hieronymus Bosch are combined with abstract brushwork and gestural compositions.Oscillating between the abstract and the figurative, Banisadr’s paintings feature fantastical landscapes populated with grotesque hybrids in a perpetual state of frenzy.
These characters – conflations of animal, god, machine and human – are deftly captured in whirling, exuberant brushstrokes. Frequently there is a sense of a heaven and earth: in the lower half, we witness temporal struggles, physical conflict and angst, while above the characters seem more at peace; as if they have surrendered themselves to the ether. For Banisadr, painting is evidently not just painting, but a means to reflect visually on his thoughts, memories and imagination. While intensely personal, it is a line of enquiry that allows him to chip away at artistic, political, cultural and religious shibboleths. It is significant that he invariably eschews the Western tradition of including a central focal point or protagonist. In doing so, he allows the beholder to commune with a bigger idea of humanity itself and imbues his work with a universal quality, offering an invitation to the viewer to renew not just their own visual and psychological references, but also to question larger conventional orthodoxies.
Banisadr depicts fields of frenetic, abstract brushwork that conjure ideas of chaos, violence, displacement, and memory. His densely populated paintings are influenced by the artist’s perception of sound as inextricably linked to color and form.
Drawing on childhood experiences of the Iran-Iraq war in his native Tehran (where explosions and other aural disturbances were common place) as well as his extant synesthesia,
Banisadr works painstakingly and intuitively to build complex compositions that exude a vitality at once turbulent and celebratory.