The Benaki Museum is hosting Ali Banisadr’s first solo exhibition in Greece entitled Ultramarinus – Beyond the Sea, at the Spyridon & Eurydice Costopoulos Gallery, Museum of Greek Culture, curated by Polina Kosmadaki, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art and Head of the Benaki Museum Paintings, Drawings and Prints Department.
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. Artists such as Kandinsky associated Ultramarine with the awakening of the transcendental element. Moreover, in Eastern philosophy, this colour is linked to the sixth chakra (or “third eye”), the awakening of “elevated consciousness”.
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 Islamic 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.
Image: Ali Banisadr: The Builder, 2019
© Ali Banisadr