Amir H. Fallah

Colourful patchworks of identity that subvert Western portraiture canon.

Amir H. Fallah (he/him) was born in 1979 in Tehran, Iran, and now lives and works in Los Angeles.

Did you know?

Fallah is deeply interested in the creative potential of digital art and NFTs. He minted his first NFT 'Immortal' in March 2021.

Practice

Fallah's work is rooted in his experience living between Iran and the United States. Cultural hybridity comes in visual form. Foliage from vastly different places are side by side in the paintings. Leafy tropical plants sit alongside prickly desert cacti.

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Practice overview

Amir H. Fallah paints portraits of identity in all its multiplicitous glory. He starts by photographing people at home, among their belongings. Or as he puts it: “personal mementos, historical heirlooms and the mundane debris of life.” While the sitters do sometimes feature, Fallah favours their belongings and memories. Elements from the photoshoots are then mixed with a wealth of references from East and West. There are nods to Persian miniatures, historical maps, illuminated manuscripts, science-fiction and cartoons. Using acrylic paints, he slowly builds the busy, collage-esque compositions. Together, these amass into vibrant roadmaps of identity.

In many of Fallah's paintings, people are obscured beneath patterned fabrics. "How do you cover the physical appearance of someone?" he asks. "By throwing something over their head." Rather than being a comment on Islamic dress codes (which it is often interpreted as) it is a symbol of society. Namely, the ways in which we often hide our true selves to the outside world. Whether that be online, in the grip of 'professionalism' or even with friends and family. In the Western canon, Orientalist ideas saw Brown and Black bodies fetishised. By contrast, Fallah reverses the gaze by refusing to show it at all.

“I go into the sitter’s home like an archaeologist, digging into their personal history to unearth meaning.” Amir H. Fallah