The New Social Environment#42

Ali Banisadr with David Anfam


1 p.m. Eastern / 10 a.m. Pacific

Painter Ali Banisadr and scholar David Anfam discuss creative life in the context of our new social reality.

Ali Banisadr’s 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 commonplace) as well as his extant synesthesia, Banisadr works painstakingly and intuitively to build complex compositions that exude a vitality at once turbulent and celebratory. Banisadr draws freely from an encyclopedic knowledge of the history of painting to create a distinctive visual language. Whilst his gestural brushstrokes recall the unbridled energy of de Kooning’s Abstract Expressionism, the work’s intensity of mood and dreamlike detail evokes mid-20th-century surrealism in the vein of Francis Bacon. Much like Old Masters Bruegel and Bosch, whom Banisadr cites as influences, the artist’s work conceives of a concurrent, existentially absurd flurry of activity as seen from above. As the lower portions of the picture planes brim with carnivalesque energy, the upper halves achieve balance in their calming sense of distance, functioning like the flattened, scenic backdrop of a theatre stage. Banisadr’s oscillating use of cool and warm tones works to denote either landscape or flesh, though the abstracted forms, fading in and out of focus like figures from a dream, resist total comprehension.

Ali Banisadr lives and works in New York City. Banisadr is the subject of the exhibition, Bosch & Banisadr, Ali Banisadr: We Work in Shadows at Gemäldegalerie, Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna, and he was recently the subject of solo and two-person museum exhibitions at Het Noordbrabants Museum, Den Bosch, Netherlands and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Jacksonville, FL. In 2013, his work was included in “Love Me/Love Me Not, Contemporary Art from Azerbaijan and its Neighbors,” The 55th International Art Exhibition, Venice Biennale, and “Expanded Painting," Prague Biennale 6. Banisadr’s work is included in significant public collections worldwide, including the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY; the British Museum, London; Centre Pompidou, Paris; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Los Angeles County Museum of Art and Museum der Moderne, Salzburg. (Read more)

In the Rail:

Based in London, UK, David Anfam is the Managing Director of Art Exploration Consultancy Ltd as well as Senior Consulting Curator at the Clyfford Still Museum, Denver, and Director of its Research Center. Dr. Anfam’s prime scholarly focus is modern and contemporary American art, although he has ranged widely across other areas. His diverse books includeAbstract Expressionism(Thames & Hudson, 1990; second edition 2015); Mark Rothko: The Works on Canvas—A Catalogue Raisonné (Yale University Press, 1998; sixth printing 2019), which received the 2000 Mitchell Prize for the History of Art; and Anish Kapoor (Phaidon Press, 2009). Since 1990 Anfam has also contributed essays to more than seventy exhibition catalogues, including Edward Hopper (Tate Modern, 2004), David Smith: A Centennial (Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 2006), Robert Motherwell’s Elegies to the Spanish Republic (Dominique Lévy, New York, 2015) and Pier Paolo Calzolari (White Cube, London, 2018). He received his BA (1976) and PhD degrees (1984) from the Courtauld Institute of Art. A regular reviewer for The Burlington Magazine, Anfam has lectured at institutions around the world*—*among them, The Museum of Modern Art, New York; the State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg; and the Gemäldegalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. Most recently, Anfam’s exhibition Abstract Expressionism – the largest survey of its kind ever held in Europe – opened at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, in 2016 and toured to Guggenheim Bilbao. Between the two venues, it attracted more than 670,000 visitors. Anfam’s next book this year accompanies the exhibition Lynda Benglis: In The Realm of the Senses that he curated for NEON at the Museum of Cycladic Art in Athens. He is also a contributor of the Rail.

In the Rail:

❤️ 🌈 We'd like to thank the The Terra Foundation for American Art for making these daily conversations possible, and for their support of our growing archive.