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.
Nocturne and Cannons Hidden in Roses, 2019, which depict layered compositions of disordered forms and figures, are Banisadr's first prints and represent our first collaboration with the artist. Each work, made with Burnet Editions in New York, result from a combination of etching with aquatint, photogravure, spitbite, drypoint and burnisher. Banisadr finishes the prints by hand with a wash of colour. This varied and detailed choice of printing techniques reflects the array of tools - rags, sticks, wire brushes - that he often uses when mark-making on a canvas. These new prints convey both the detailed and spontaneous gestural elements of Banisadr's larger-scale paintings.
"Making the prints was a challenge at first; I had to deconstruct the understanding of my own paintings in order to make the prints. Also, I am not used to working with someone else, I prefer to work alone but it was rewarding at the end. Printmaking has added another layer of understanding to my paintings. It has also helped me try to understand how some of my favourite printmakers, such as Goya, Martin Schongauer, Breugel and Hiroshige, made their prints."
These editions, which have been acquired by the Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, in Buffalo, New York, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in New York City, directly relate to the music of nineteenth-century composer Frédéric Chopin. Chopin wrote a series of piano pieces entitled Nocturnes and his fellow composer Robert Schumann described Chopin's work as "cannons hidden in roses." Music is an important element of Banisadr's work. He says, "Good music is above rational thought. It is hard to get there but this is the whole purpose of painting for me, to reach a higher level of consciousness."
Banisadr draws on art historical references from the ancient to the contemporary. This includes, but is not limited to, Ancient Egyptian art, Persian miniatures, Japanese woodblock prints, Velazquez, Picasso's Guernica, Francisco Goya, Max Ernst, Lee Krasner, Breugel and the Dutch master Hieronymous Bosch, whose paintings were presented in dialogue with Banisadr's work last year in a show at the Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna, Austria.
Banisadr is currently working towards three major museum exhibitions; Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, Connecticut, which opens in in October; The Benaki Museum in Athens, Greece, which opens in November; and Museo Stefano Bardini and Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, Italy, which opens in early 2021.
Ali Banisadr lives and works in New York.
If you are interested in purchasing either of the hand-painted prints, please contact [email protected].
Cannons Hidden in Roses
Film: Ali Banisadr hand-painting Nocturne in his studio
Making the prints
All images © artist, 2020