The Benaki Museum is hosting the first solo exhibition in Greece of the internationally established contemporary painter Ali Banisadr who recently exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
While the exhibition is currently closed to the public due to the pandemic, The Benaki Museum have produced a series of videos with the artist offering a virtual preview of the show. Watch the first chapter below.
The exhibition title refers to Ultramarine, the blue colour pigment used as early as the Middle Ages, which was originally extracted from the gemstone lapis lazuli and is believed to encapsulate all shades of water and skies. The religious, cultural and supernatural connotations of such a unique colour are crucial to Banisadr’s expressive works, in which interrelations with ancestral forms of painting are consolidated.
In this exhibition, the dialogue between key works of the artist’s oeuvre and Chinese ceramics of the Benaki Museum collections serves as a foothold for projecting the past onto the present. The free associations of forms, sources and various narratives are driven by this powerful colour which dominates Banisadr’s ardent landscapes. In particular, a section of the exhibition features works in blue and white, which act as a kind of essay on the symbolism and “magical” properties of the colour blue.
Ali Banisadr was born in Tehran, Iran and lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. His perception of sound is inextricably linked to color and form. Drawing from different art historical sources such as miniature painting, Abstract Expressionism, Bruegel, Hieronymus Bosch but also Futurism, Surrealism and Chinese landscape painting, he composes narrative landscapes that encompass more than a story: a feeling of explosion, revelation and tumult emanates conveyed by the disruption of compositional balance and the organisation of space. This historical aspect of Banisadr’s work, the universality of his references and the interaction between western art and ancestral forms of the East reveal the affinity of the exhibited works with the Benaki Museum’s permanent collections.