Los Angeles based artist Amir H. Fallah constructs lush, vibrantly hued paintings populated by shrouded figures in shallow spaces. The flattened perspective is a nod to Persian miniatures and, as Amir writes, his paintings are "charged with symbolism from countries and cultures left behind." Iranian born and American raised, Amir pushes back against the fetishization of his identity. "It's exciting for [collectors] - 'oh, you know Iranian artist making work about such a tough life he's had.' It's a sexy story. They have been doing that with African-American artists for decades. I've tried to resist it as much as I can because I don't think it makes for very interesting artwork.”
In A Promise of Prosperity (2018) we see a dense ring of foliage encircling a glowing pink background. The perspective is as if we are looking straight up at an untouchable sky through a tangle of flora obscuring our view. Understood this way, the title becomes a tongue-in-cheek reference to the seeming unattainability of prosperity in late capitalist America. And the hexagonal canvas points to the arbitrary and ineffectual way borders— both psychological and geopolitical— attempt to contain life.
Geneology (2017) is a tangled web of ancestry and inheritance. The central figure reclines on a stool, shrouded in a patterned tapestry. They wear a mask, hinting at the hidden, obscured nature of ancestry, but one hand is also moving to remove the mask. The background is split between a sunset orange scene thick with plants, and night-like black and violet wavy stripes. The thin painted border enters the scene from the corners, zigzagging through the sitter's body as if it intends to trap them there.
Back Home (2016) shows a frontal portrait of a shrouded figure whose eerily green arms reach for the ornate jewelry around their neck. The shroud, a key piece of Fallah's figurative work, functions as anti-surveillance headgear in a post-privacy world. But it also relates to what he calls "the precarity of belonging"— a precarity felt by anyone struggling to grow roots or call a place Home.
For more about Amir's life and creative practice, I recommend his interview on Beyond the Studio, where he dives deep into the life of being a Dad and a working artist.