Ali Banisadr Beautiful Lies Ali Banisadr Beautiful Lies

Ali Banisadr Beautiful Lies

Until 4 October 2021
Palazzo Vecchio & Museo Bardini, Florence
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‘Epic poems, like Dante’s Inferno, hold the essence of every story within them.’

 — Ali Banisadr

  

Ali Banisadr’s exhibition Beautiful Lies, his first in an Italian state museum and in Florence, forms part of the commemorative events marking the 700th anniversary of the death of Dante Alighieri. Organised by the Museo Novecento and curated by its director, Sergio Risaliti, the exhibition takes place across two historic venues: the Palazzo Vecchio and the Bardini Museum.

‘The way Banisadr superimposes myriads of details and creates landscapes mixing figurative elements with other decidedly abstract ones, can remind us of Dante’s allegorical structure in a poem that gives voice to hundreds of characters, events and images each with different levels of meaning.’

— Sergio Risaliti, curator of the exhibition and Director, Museo Novocento, Florence

 

 

 

Exhibition introduction by curator Sergio Risaliti

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Exhibition introduction by curator Sergio Risaliti

At the Palazzo Vecchio, Banisadr presents a trilogy of new paintings inspired by Dante's Divine Comedy and made over the past year: SOS, Underworld and Beautiful Lies.

The expression ‘beautiful lie’, under which truth may hide, was used by Dante in reference to his own work and to allegorical poetry in general. It also befits Banisadr’s paintings, whose energetic surfaces and captivating colour palettes convey inner worlds of violence and isolation, anxiety and wonder, but also memory and imagination.

 

‘In Banisadr’s Inferno paintings, fragmentation and suggestion give a sense of myriad possibilities – as opposed to any sense of completion that might limit possible reading. This indeterminacy brilliantly tracks the ever-restless mind. The paintings become representations of webs of thought so intricate they can’t be unraveled. This is exactly what poetry does.

— Mary Jo Bang , ‘Ali Banisadr and Dante Alighieri: Painter-Poet and Poet-Painter’, 2021

 

Atmospheric image
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Ali Banisadr Beautiful Lies, 2021 Oil on linen 171.8 x 227.6 x 7.6 cm (67.63 x 89.63 x 3 in)...

Ali Banisadr
Beautiful Lies, 2021
Oil on linen
171.8 x 227.6 x 7.6 cm (67.63 x 89.63 x 3 in) 

 

Neither fully abstract nor definitively figurative, Ali Banisadr’s richly evocative paintings do not seem to have any single narrative. Within the same picture plane multiple dimensions are conflated, translating an internal experience of sound into visual terms. Banisadr is gifted with synaesthesia, whereby otherwise separate senses are linked – in this case colour and sound.

Watch Ali Banisadr speaking about his exhibition

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Watch Ali Banisadr speaking about his exhibition
‘The beginning of any work of art involves a moment not unlike the moment of Dante’s “coming to in una selva oscura (a dark forest) in the Inferno. [...] In his painting Beautiful Lies, Banisadr captures the psychological sense of una selva oscura far better than an artist who would present us with a reductive idea of a dim-lit woodland with leaves and trees.

— Mary Jo Bang

 

Ali Banisadr Underworld, 2021 Oil on linen 171.8 x 227.7 x 7.6 cm (67.63 x 89.63 x 3 in) In...

Ali Banisadr
Underworld, 2021
Oil on linen
171.8 x 227.7 x 7.6 cm (67.63 x 89.63 x 3 in)

 

In the colourful Underworld (2021), strange half-human, half-animal creatures morph across the canvas in vivid gradations of purples, greens and browns that are densely packed beneath an agitated sky. In contrast, the brushwork in the upper half of the canvas is airier and more ethereal.

‘In Underworld, the second Inferno-inspired Banisadr painting, one senses a darkening palette. The darkness matches the fact that the lower Dante and Virgil descend, the darker the air – this to signify that the farther one is from divine love, the less one can see their way clear.

— Mary Jo Bang

 

Ali Banisadr SOS, 2020 Oil on linen 169.2 x 227.6 x 7.6 cm (66.63 x 89.63 x 3 in) SOS...

Ali Banisadr
SOS, 2020
Oil on linen
169.2 x 227.6 x 7.6 cm (66.63 x 89.63 x 3 in)

 

SOS is a distress signal in Morse code that is often misinterpreted as an acronym of Save our Souls. The fiery conflagration that appears in the background of the painting echoes the omnipresence of flames in Dante’s Inferno.

Atmospheric image
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‘After a year of protests and riots amid a mismanaged pandemic, SOS, 2020, seems to be the aftermath – as much an uncanny premonition as a depiction of a hell of the sort envisioned by artists for centuries. Its denizens are rendered as animals confined in a corral while an angelic figure holding a scroll, presumably Saint Peter, looks down on the fiery carnage.’

— Cathryn Drake, Artforum, April 2021

 

 

At the Bardini Museum – famous for its distinctive walls in a shade known as ‘Bardini blue’ – the artist presents 20 paintings from different periods in his career, installed in dialogue with the historical permanent collection. The encyclopaedic nature of art dealer Stefano Bardini’s collection, which spans centuries and cultures, mirrors Banisadr’s synthetic approach.

Learn more about Ali Banisadr
Ali Banisadr, New York: Rizzoli Electa (2021)

Ali Banisadr, New York: Rizzoli Electa (2021)

Ali Banisadr's first major monograph delves into the painter's influences and practice. With contributions by Negar Azimi, Robert Hobbs, Joe Lin-Hill and John Yau.

 

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