Bosch & Banisadr opens at Academy of Fine Arts Vienna

Ali Banisadr is the subject of a new exhibition, Bosch & Banisadr, which explores the synthesis between his work and that of Dutch master Hieronymous Bosch (c. 1450/55 – 1516), on view at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna from September 6–December 1, 2019.

The heart of the Paintings Gallery of the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna is the Last Judgment by Bosch. This triptych is among the world’s most important art works from the period around 1500 and is Bosch’s second largest painting. Many aspects of the altarpiece continue to puzzle scholars to this day, and it is indisputably the collection’s main attraction.

The exhibition is part of a series that aims to explore correspondences between the Dutch painter’s work and that of other artists, reopening a dialog between artistic objects and the Last Judgment at regular intervals. These shows reveal surprising connections between the various media and artists, offering a variety of perspectives on Bosch’s painting. Whether the pieces on display are paintings, graphic works, sculptures, video works, or photographs, visitors are able to discover new facets of Bosch’s masterpiece.

Born in Tehran, Iran in 1976, Ali Banisadr moved to the USA with his family as a child. In 2000, he began his studies at the School of Visual Arts in New York, the city where he still lives and works. His large-scale, complex paintings oscillate between figuration and Abstract Expressionism. The artist has been inspired by Old Masters such as Bosch and Bruegel as well as Max Beckmann and Wassily Kandinsky. Unlike his earlier work, direct references to art history are vague and Banisadr has discovered his own artistic form of expression. His dynamic brushwork and the variety of forms and figures generate compositions that frequently reflect a chaotic world. The paintings are reminiscent of explosions; it is unclear whether the movement in the images flow from the top down or the bottom up. Sound and music are integral to his work and influence the way he creates.

Banisadr has synaesthesia (where one sense triggers another; such as the ability to see sound and hear colour). While working, he hears internal sounds that guide the structure of his compositions. His work has frequently been compared to Bosch, and his creation of worlds within worlds extend from a micro to a macro perspective. Banisadr’s paintings have a similar effect to Bosch’s work both from up close and from a distance. Banisadr views the creation of imaginary artistic worlds as a line that connects his works to those of Bosch: "Bosch creates worlds, all from the imagination, channelling unknown places of the psyche, which is what interests me."

The exhibition presents six of Banisadr’s paintings, almost all large-scale, from 2015, 2017, 2018, and 2019. Some of these pieces come directly to Vienna from the artist’s European museum debut which was held at the Het Noordbrabants Museum in Bosch’s native city of ’s-Hertogenbosch.

Bosch & Banisadr is the first time the artist’s works are on exhibit in an Austrian museum.

Image: Ali Banisadr, We work in shadows, 2017, oil on linen, 82 x 120 inches, 208.3 x 304.8 cm.

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