Amir H. Fallah: Scatter My Ashes on Foreign Lands

Amir H. Fallah: Scatter My Ashes on Foreign Lands is the first large-scale overview of one of America’s most compelling and prolific contemporary artists. Tracing the artist’s development over the last decade, this comprehensive exhibition features figurative works and botanical paintings spanning the artist’s diverse interests both formally and conceptually, while focusing on the biographical stories of his subjects. Working collaboratively with those that he paints, Fallah utilizes personal history as an entry point to discuss race, representation, the body, and the memories of cultures and countries left behind. Through this process, the artist’s works employ nuanced and emotive narratives that evoke an inquiry about identity, the immigrant experience, and the history of portraiture.

This exhibition looks across the artist’s career to highlight his engagement with a range of themes, including immigration, identity, displacement, eastern and western art history, and popular culture. Fallah interrogates systems of representation embedded in the history of Western art. His ornate environments combine visual vocabularies of painting and collage with elements of installation to deconstruct material modes of identity formation. Portraits of veiled subjects capitalize on ambiguity to skillfully weave fact and fiction, while questioning how to create a portrait without representing the physicality of the sitter. While the stories that surround his subjects are deeply personal and are told through the intimate possessions they hold most dear, his work addresses generational immigrant experiences of movement, trauma, and celebration. Fallah wryly incorporates Western art historical references into paintings formally rooted in the pattern-based visual language of Islamic Art. In doing so, his paintings possess a hybridity that reflects his own background as an Iranian-American immigrant straddling cultures. 

For the first time Fallah will be showing a wide array of his thematic projects under one roof, mixing botanical paintings based on Dutch 17th century painting, portraiture of American immigrants, and a new series of autobiographical works that meditate on themes of fatherhood, belonging, legacy and family. 

Amir H. Fallah (b. 1979, Tehran) received his BFA in Fine Art & Painting at the Maryland Institute College of Art in 2001 and his MFA in Painting at the University of California, Los Angeles in 2005. He has exhibited extensively in solo and group exhibitions across the United States and abroad, including solo presentations at the Schneider Museum, Ashland (2017); the San Diego Art Institute (2017); the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Overland (2015); Shulamit Nazarian (2018, 2016) and The Third Line, Dubai (2017, 2013, 2009, 2007, 2005). Fallah received the CCF Grant (2017), the Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters and Sculptors Grant (2015), and was selected to participate in the 9th Sharjah Biennial. 

Fallah has artwork in the collections of the Smart Museum of Art, Chicago the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City and the Microsoft Collection among others.