Amir H. Fallah
Amir H. Fallah trades in portraiture. His pattern-laden paintings typically depict subjects cloaked in yards of bright fabrics, adorned in sentimental jewelry or family heirlooms. Draped in anonymity, his figures offer only breadcrumbs-their identities hinted at through the specific cultural objects they are intricately depicted with. Yet, for Unknown Voyage, Fallah has honed in on a rather notorious subject to act as muse to this unique body of paintings: the late Parisian painter, Henri Rousseau. While Rousseau has now been accepted into the annals of art history, and went on to influence a number of artists of his day (Picasso, Delaunay, De Chirico, Matisse, Magritte) in his time, he was a bit of an outsider—he was ridiculed for his untrained, child-like style. Dubiously, Rousseau had a penchant for fantastical hyperbolic tales. His most well known works, such as Dream (1910), picture a lush Mexican jungle, which he reportedly experienced first hand during his years in the French Infantry. In reality, his time in the military passed with little event or adventure; Rousseau, indeed, never left France.
Rather than exotic lands and brave escapades, his jungle scenes were painted from source material such as the Paris Botanical Gardens, books, ticket stubs, post-cards, and detritus he encountered in his home country. In his rich fantasy life, and appropriation of multi-varied source materials, Rousseau was, in many ways, ahead of his time. The advent of the internet now allows artists to sample loosely from a well of sources online. Fallah has created his portrait of Rousseau, much like Rousseau depicted the Mexican jungle: as a voyeur, longing to be immersed in a fantastical subject. Like Rousseau’s evocation of exotic adventure, Fallah’s body of paintings elicit a sense of expedition.
Amir H. Fallah is a Los Angeles, CA artist who has exhibited widely across the United States and internationally. Fallah’s artistic oeuvre encompasses painting, photography, sculpture, and installation combined with a visual vocabulary that includes collage and complex patterning. His practice presents an alternative perspective to entrenched art historical portraiture traditions and the dynamics of modern day art collection and art making, and in creating Unknown Voyage, Fallah’s inspiration came from Henri Rousseau.
Amir H. Fallah, Unknown Voyage, The Schneider Museum of Art, Oregon Center for the Arts at Southern Oregon University, Ashland, OR. June 14 – September 9, 2017.