Amir H. Fallah

Amir H. Fallah (b. 1979, Tehran, Iran) is a visual artist currently residing in Los Angeles, CA. Amir received his BFA in Fine Art and painting at the Maryland Institute College of Art and his MFA in painting at the University of California, Los Angeles. Selected solo exhibitions include the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tucson; the South Dakota Art Museum, Brookings SD; Schneider Museum of Art, Ashland, OR; San Diego ICA; and the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Overland KS.
April 28, 2022
Tell us about your practice.
All of my work is about the expansion, deconstruction, and abstraction of portraiture and identity. What is a portrait and how can we redefine it? In the past, my work has focused on portraits of others but in the last 3 years, I’ve turned inward. The work now explores my own identity, experiences, fears, and desires. It’s very personal work but my hope is that it is open-ended enough to have broad appeal.
Your approach towards portraiture is quite unique, as they are rarely straightforward. Can you tell us about how you approach figures within your work?
Historically portraiture is about describing someone via a physical representation of them. This always felt misleading as what you look like rarely says much about who you are, your life experiences, or your wants and needs. In my work, I’m attempting to find alternative or more “true” ways of depicting people. How can their life story, the things they live with, and their relationships with others give insight into who they are.
A big part of your body of work in the past couple of years features a lot of symbols in various formats. Can you tell us about the thought process of picking and weaving these symbols into your work?
I keep large digital databases of images, illustrations, advertisements, and artworks that come from museum archives, photos that I take, digitized libraries, and social media. These images are old and new, come from the east and west, and are from low and high cultures. I’m interested in how various combinations of images can act as a sort of cryptic language. You can combine symbols from disparate sources to create narratives or drive viewers toward various ideas. This collision of images also speaks to the world that we live in today. Scroll through social media, a newspaper, or a magazine and you will be bombarded with advertising, historical events, news, and memes. These are all happening at once and create visual stimuli that are simultaneously chaotic, beautiful, and alarming. I collect this chaos and combine it in unexpected ways to discuss not only my own life but also to try to make sense of these uncertain times that we are all living in.
You currently have a show in Hong Kong with Denny Dimin Gallery titled, Joy As An Act Of Resistance, can you tell us more about the title of the exhibition?
This show brings together three bodies of work made during the pandemic. As the title of the show suggests, many of the works are struggling with ideas surrounding living through, surviving, and hopefully moving past the trauma of the past two years. The pandemic revealed a lot about those who are close to me as well as my greater community. Some of these revelations have been positive and some tragic. I’ve had to come to terms with uncomfortable truths and more than ever have turned to my close network of family and friends for comfort, safety, and joy.
You were quite early to utilize the power of NFTs in your work. What is your approach to NFTs? What are some of the most challenging aspects of being in that space?
I first became interested in NFTs because it was something new and different. I learn best by doing so the first work I made was a conceptual piece about what it means to tokenize a physical artwork. Is the physical rendered a copy or can they both live as separate artworks? It was really questioning the blockchain itself. After that, I decided to make work that was natively digital. The computer allows you to do things that you can never do with paint. 
Patterning and embellishment are a big part of my work so I started to experiment with how you can create patterning and texture digitally. I’ve been making NFTs that use gifs, dithers, and low-res image pixelization to create works that can never be replicated in paint. These works deal with the same themes as my paintings but are created using digital means and are meant to be viewed on the screen. 
It’s been a satisfying addition to the various mediums that I make and I’ve already seen how both my digital work and physical work are informing one another. The NFT art space is still in its infancy. Most NFTs are financial instruments but there are small groups of artists that are using the technology to make and share artworks. I encourage those who are interested in the art side of NFTs to seek out artists in the space and learn more about it. There is a lot of exciting work being created that has nothing to do with the collectibles that are getting all the press.
What has been inspiring you lately?
My son is probably my biggest influence. Becoming a father is a life-changing experience and gives you a new appreciation for everything. Seeing the world through my son’s eyes has influenced my work in so many ways. It’s made me a better artist and human.

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