What We Are And What We Were | Amir H. Fallah

What We Are And What We Were | Amir H. Fallah

TOA Presents is thrilled to announce What We Are And What We Were, a solo exhibition by Los Angeles-based artist Amir H. Fallah.

Amir H. Fallah is renowned for his paintings, murals, sculptures and installations that explore systems of representation embedded in the history of Western art. The paintings, figurative sculptures and mirrored tondos featured in What We Are And What We Were continue that exploration, while delving into themes of immigration, migration, cultural exchange and the pursuits of knowledge and empathy, often through the lens of portraiture. The exhibition is anchored by the monumental Science Is But An Image Of The Truth, a painting combining Fallah’s use of vivid colors, dense patterns and layered imagery with his impassioned engagement with public discourse and power structures.

What We Are And What We Were marks the second collaboration between Amir H. Fallah and TOA Presents. Fallah was previously featured in the 2022 group exhibition Horror Vacui, which he co-curated with fellow artist Mark Schoening.

About the Artist: 

Amir H. Fallah creates paintings, murals, sculptures and installations that explore systems of representation embedded in the history of Western art. His ornate environments combine visual vocabularies of painting and collage to deconstruct traditional notions of identity formation, while simultaneously defying expectations of the genre for portraiture by removing or obscuring the central figure. In Fallah’s works, the absence of the sitter’s likeness is substituted with a wider representation of their personhood—one that spans time and cultures and is articulated through a network of symbols and imagery. Fallah’s paintings question not only the historical role of portraiture, but the cultural systems that are used to identify one person from another.

When autobiographical, Fallah’s paintings employ a lexicon of symbols that amalgamate personal narratives with historical and contemporary parables. The paintings serve as a diary of lessons, warnings and ideals providing coded insight into the formation of an identity, while investigating cultural values often passed between generations. When non-autobiographical, 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. Although the stories that surround his subjects are deeply personal and are told through the intimate possessions they hold most dear, this work addresses generational immigrant experiences of movement, trauma, and celebration.

Neither of this world or the next, Fallah’s works reside in the liminal space of being Othered. The paintings utilize personal history as an entry point to discuss race, representation 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.

Amir H. Fallah (b. 1979, Tehran, Iran; lives in Los Angeles) 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 Fowler Museum, Los Angeles; Museum of Contemporary Art in Tucson; South Dakota Art Museum; Schneider Museum of Art; Institute of Contemporary Art San Diego and the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art.

The artist is in the permanent collection of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; de Young Museum, San Francisco; Birmingham Museum of Art, Alabama; Jorge M. Pérez Collection, Miami; Deste Foundation For Contemporary Art, Athens; 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; 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.

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