1 March - 19 April 2014
Sperone Westwater, New York
By NOAH BECKER, MAR. 2014
Ali Banisadr's paintings have been included in the most recent Venice Biennale and numerous other international exhibitions. To speak about painting just based on the influences apparent in the work is not my favourite way of talking about art. In fact I have been going out of my way to limit this kind of discussion. Stunning about Banisadr’s work is the multitude of influences and that he has transcended the idea of touching upon his influences too literally thereby creating a remarkably original style. The buildup is a one shot, one attack approach creating an overall texture. Banisadr avoids pop art imagery and deliberately removes accidental pop-looking areas during the development of the paintings. He also steers clear of trendy colours so popular in the New York scene right now. His work has a lot of drawing-like characteristics creating unique textured surfaces. The push and pull of his mark making is coming from abstraction yet has that graphic quality that has developed from his background in the California Graffiti scene. There is no pouring of paint but at time he splatters areas with forceful brush movements that mirror and overtake the swirling gestures of other areas. The drip of paint is missing from these - the oil paint is applied in thick impasto, the marks stick without draining down the surface of the canvas. Colours play in space with an overall approach that makes every inch of the surface important. Hints of figuration and layers of semi-transparent paint make for a joyful and complex mood. It's not just layering but levels of content approached in an almost moving transparent manner. Explosive gestures make his work flow without settling into an illustration of gestural marks which so plagues lesser painters. His control of mural sized large format painting is the most impressive aspect of this exhibition. Somehow a grand madness is suggested in these works, not a darkness but a richness of tone, the kind of energy that can only be successful with complete control at this large scale. After thinking about his work for several weeks, I had a chance to meet with Ali Banisadr and discuss his paintings with him for Whitehot Magazine.
Noah Becker: Is your current style of painting something that you have pursued for a long time or is this a recent development?
Ali Banisadr: No, this is something that I have pursued for a long time, it's is not a recent development stylistically. I could go back in time to when I was a child in Iran when the air raids and the bombing was happening during eight years of war with Iraq. During that period my mother says that I would make drawings based on the sounds that I was hearing. The sounds of the air raids and explosions is what I am talking about, so I was trying to make sense out of what was happening and express it visually.
Becker: How do you think of making a sound visually and how does this happen when you are painting?
Banisadr: It's the sort of thing that as soon as I put the brush down there's a sound in my head. I follow the sound to the direction of the brush, there's sounds that I follow for the work to come together compositionally. Sound becomes a guide from the beginning of the painting and throughout.
Becker: There are elements in the paintings that almost look like figures. The work is on the taught edge of abstract expressionism but at the same time perfectly balanced between the suggestion of figures and the suggestion of a landscape.
Banisadr: It's very abstract at the beginning and then out of that abstraction something like figures and landscapes start to come about. After this point I consider how I want or need to bring each figure out. Some of these elements require more detail and some I like to leave in a fragmented space somewhere between representation abstraction. Also in the work there is no focal point everything in the painting is as important as the rest.
Becker: What is the subject of your paintings?
Banisadr: Worlds within worlds.
Noah Becker is an artist and the publisher and founding editor of Whitehot Magazine. He shows his paintings internationally at museums and galleries. Becker also plays jazz saxophone. Becker's writing has appeared in The Guardian, VICE, Garage, Art in America, Interview Magazine, Canadian Art and the Huffington Post. He has written texts for major artist monographs published by Rizzoli and Hatje Cantz. Becker directed the New York art documentary New York is Now (2010). Becker's new album of original music "Mode For Noah" was released in 2023.
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