Ali Banisadr’s largest work to date, Fravashi, will be featured in the upcoming exhibition Love Me, Love Me Not, as part of the 55th Venice Biennale International Art Exhibition this June. The exhibition aims to create a dialogue between the works of contemporary Azerbaijani artists and those from their neighbouring countries of Iran, Turkey, Georgia, Russia and beyond.
Taking inspiration from Zoroastrianism, an ancient Persian religion, Fravashi is a grand-scale triptych, composed of a visual language that effuses dynamism and history in Banisadr’s characteristic painterly style. Three panels of detailed figurative imagery form immersive and abstracted conceptual landscapes which together serve as pictorial representation of Banisadr’s own experiences.
The conflation of one’s entire visual experiences into a single representative plane is informed by the concept of the ‘Fravashi’ itself – this being an essential pre-existing immortal ‘guardian spirit’, which is responsible for sending souls out into the world to battle against evil. It is believed that on the fourth day after a person’s death, the soul returns to the Fravashi, whereupon all of its experiences in the material world are gathered. This triptych reflects the process of recollection through its vibrant and varied imagery – a cumulative realisation of the material and spiritual components that have built up the very essence of the artist’s personal existence.
Banisadr draws inspiration from the ancient text of the Avesta, as well as his own lexicon of abstracted images from childhood memory. His works are rooted in historical references, often portraying scenes of upheaval, frequently attributed to the conflict the artist experienced first-hand growing up during the Iran-Iraq war. The energetic strokes, vibrant colours, and expressive paint handling convey a holistic experience of conflict, merging reality with myth and past with present harmoniously on the canvas. His practice references the works of artists such as Hieronymous Bosch, Futurist and Expressionist styles, and the tradition of Persian miniature painting, resulting in fantastical compositions that play on a heightened awareness of the dysfunction and disorder of the world around us. Through his art, Banisadr brings together and attempts to make sense of emotions, ideas and sensations that are universal to the human condition.
Love Me, Love Me Not: Contemporary Art From Azerbaijan and its Neighboursopens to the public from 1st June until 24th November 2013, at Tesa 100, Arsenale Nord, at the 55th International Art Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia.
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