May 4, 2021

Best Practices: Ali Banisadr Looks to History to Create Abstractions for Today

Perched on a table next to curled tubes of paint and crusty brushes in Ali Banisadr’s homey Brooklyn studio was a copy of an epic poem that, over its thousands of years of history, has been told and retold—including by Banisadr himself. “My wife complains that I can’t stop talking about Gilgamesh,” the artist said, with a laugh, about a storied Mesopotamian text that has consumed him. “I like the idea of something ancient that speaks to our time. I get visions in my head—of the places, the characters, the atmosphere. It just keeps giving.”

The geographic origin of Gilgamesh syncs with Banisadr’s roots in Tehran, where he was born and lived before moving to Turkey and then to the United States when he was 12. And the tale it tells resonates with powerfully pent-up and urgently searching paintings of the kind he made for a recent exhibition at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, Connecticut, and a solo show opening this week at Kasmin Gallery in New York. [...]