Amir Fallah, Wheel of Life
Amir H. Fallah’s immediately recognizable style is a kind of post-internet pastiche, mixing elements of Middle Eastern and Western high and low culture to convey the experience of being culturally hybrid. Many of his works particularly reference the works of Minimalist artist Frank Stella, as these appeal to Fallah’s appreciation for the powerful visual pull of geometric abstraction across cultural contexts. Here, Fallah has combined elements of Stella’s work Lac Laronge III, 1969, with imagery culled from across the internet, as well as his own staged studio photography. The circle recurs throughout the work as a kind of universal, mystical motif that appears in both art and nature. As Fallah explains, an archaic cosmological chart points toward humanity’s ever-changing view of our position in the universe, a cow’s skull foreshadows the specter of death that foregrounds all of humanity’s questions, a seashell and images of the early universe taken by the Hubble Space Telescope reveal the rhythm and harmony of patterns in nature, all self-repeating at vastly disparate scales.
Stella’s own circles—which are larger than life in person but elastic in scale when presented as a digital image on a screen—appear here as yet another iteration of the geometric “Wheel of Life” that Fallah imagines spanning all of existence, from the microcosmic to the macrocosmic. Fallah also plays with Stella’s color palette of complementary colors; the prominent use of greens, purples, and oranges subtly reinforces the circular motif by suggesting movement across the color wheel.
Fallah began his career as a graffiti artist, going on to found Beautiful/Decay, a cult magazine for street art and design. His recent series of digital works, which he produces in Photoshop and outputs as PNG files, are more refined versions of the digital sketches that he makes for each of his paintings. These paintings are known for their meticulous brushwork, and Fallah’s file-based works similarly explore the materiality of digital images: the high-resolution format allows viewers to observe the pixilation of his downloaded source materials as well as digital effects that are difficult to recreate in paint, such as the halo of pink light over the left figure’s shoulder. In this PNG, his familiar use of bold patterns—particularly those he finds on the mass-produced “ethnic” textiles that are sold in American stores—takes on an additional resonance with algorithmic patterns associated with the digital processing of images. For example, the dotted pattern found in the teal areas suggests dithering, which is used to compress images and make them easier to share on the internet. In this way, Fallah’s work emblematizes the quickening circulation of culture in digital formats, while highlighting the various technological mediations and cultural translations that such a traffic in images requires.
- Extra Large Acrylic: 11.4 x 7.5 x 1.1 inches
- Comes with US plug and custom cable
Amir H. Fallah received his BFA in Fine Art & Painting at the Maryland Institute College of Art and his MFA in painting at the University of California, Los Angeles. He has exhibited extensively in solo and group exhibitions across the United States and abroad. Selected solo exhibitions include the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tucson; South Dakota Art Museum, Brookings SD; Schneider Museum of Art, Ashland OR; San Diego ICA; and the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Overland KS.
In 2009, the artist was chosen to participate in the 9th Sharjah Biennial. In 2015, Fallah received the Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters and Sculptors Grant. In 2019, Fallah’s painting Calling On The Past received the Northern Trust Purchase Prize at EXPO Chicago. In 2020, Fallah was awarded the COLA Individual Artist Fellowship and the Artadia grant. In addition, the artist had a solo exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tucson, accompanied by a catalogue, and a year-long installation at the ICA San Jose.
The artist has works in the permanent collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles; Birmingham Museum of Art, Alabama; Jorge M. Pérez Collection, Miami; Deste Foundation For Contemporary Art, Athens, Greece; Xiao Museum Of Contemporary Art, Rizhao, China; McEvoy Foundation For The Arts, San Francisco; Nerman Museum, Kansas City; SMART Museum of Art at the University of Chicago; Davis Museum, Massachusetts; The Microsoft Collection, Washington; Plattsburg State Art Museum, NY; Cerritos College Public Art Collection, CA; Los Angeles County Department of Arts & Culture, CA; and Salsali Private Museum, Dubai, UAE.