Amir H. Fallah has become renowned for his enigmatic portraits which are highly intricate in detail and meaning – reflecting the people they portray. The point of difference for Fallah is that his subjects are most often veiled, masked or absent, represented by specific objects, cultural motifs and artifacts which point to who they are rather than their visual identity. Some of his works go further in obscuring the person altogether and focus on narrative and concept where the accumulation of visual ephemera esoterically points to whom these works might be referencing Fallah’s interest in eclectic identities originates from his own story.
Leaving Iran with his family in the aftermath of the 1979 revolution, he moved to Turkey and Italy before settling in Northern Virginia. His work embraces how his journey has shaped his variety of identities mirrored in his subjects. Each artwork encapsulates the perceived randomness of how our life experiences all fit together – to the outsider it is incidental and unexplained but by sharpening our observation, we find clues and the works start becoming a visual map of the human subject. Drawing elements and techniques from a variety of materials as far-reaching as Persian miniatures to his seven-year-old son’s anatomy drawings, Fallah creates meticulously detailed paintings, installations and sculptures. He has an ongoing quest to simultaneously make visible the invisible in terms of self, other and identity whilst seeking cover and camouflage to avoid scrutiny, misrepresentation and judgment. A repeated motif within his work is flora and fauna. With these elements, Fallah looks to draw parallels with people, approaching the variety in nature as a metaphor for diversity in humankind. The stark difference, however, is that a flower or plant is not ‘Othered’ by way of difference; instead, it is a welcome and valued contributor to its own vast ecosystem.
“For many of us living far from our ancestral lands, Fallah’s paintings model the ideas, beliefs, and fears that many immigrant bodies face daily,” commented Iranian-born Canadian artist, educator, and curator Sanaz Mazinani on this exhibition. “But it is through the work’s relentless beauty and tenacity to thrive that the offering of possibility comes in the joy of evolving difference.”
Amir H Fallah: An Anthem for Uncertain Times
June 30, 2022 – August 28, 2022
Vancouver Centre of International Contemporary Art
British Columbia, Canada